Some Advice Every Theologian Needs to Hear

three person on cliff under white sky

My son Quillan and I had a conversation while laying in bed on a lazy Saturday morning. We were talking about what it means to be a theologian. I told him that he is a theologian because he likes to talk about God. I pray you are a theologian too.

Theology, quite literally, means talking about God. The first half of the word, theo-, comes from the word Theos. Theos is a Greek word which simply means God. The second half, -ology has a similar root to the word logos, which means word or words. There are many ways the suffix -ology can be used – Speaking of, having a discourse about, engaging in a scientific study of a topic are all legitimate meanings.  Geology, for instance, means the study of the Earth, or talking about the Earth.

But, we must not forget that the word Logos, for Christians, has a much deeper and more profound meaning than it does for most modern thinkers. Christianity inherited its understanding of the true nature of words from the ancient world it was born in. We carry the teaching that words, and in particular names, are very potent.

This is why we are never to use the Lord’s name in vain. This is why Jacob received the name Israel after wrestling with God trying to learn God’s name. This is why God revealed the sacred name to Moses as tangible proof of divine will. Jesus, or more accurately the Christ, is the fullness of name and word. This is why John’s gospel opens with this famous passage:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

-John 1:1-5

Christians understand that Words have life. This is because one part of the Trinity is the Living Word, or Logos. So, when we engage in theology we must remember this core Christian teaching: that both halves of the word are sacred and that what we speak, or write, into the world has its root in the same power with which God commanded reality into existence. For in the beginning, it was God’s speaking which gave us matter, light, and time. So, if you dare to be a theologian, be mindful of the sanctity of what you do, and do not use your words in vain.

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