I am an amateur theology nerd. I can’t escape it. When I’m not reading theology books, I’m thinking about theology. Even when I just couldn’t even with God I was still always thinking about theology. Even when I never prayed I would think about theology.
I almost applied to seminary in my early 20s. But I couldn’t get a recommendation from my pastor because he “felt like he didn’t know me well enough.” Whether that was valid or not, it was ultimately for the best, because a messy deconstruction would have been hell had I been ten years into pastoring an evangelical church.
I still want to go to seminary. Maybe I will do it, or maybe I won’t. I have serious doubts that I would want to pastor a church, and I’m a bit old to go up the PhD track to try to teach. But boy, would I love to study theology.
But the thing that I realized tonight is that while I find theology fascinating, I also find it absolutely, completely meaningless.
Let me explain.
In the end, what is, will be. There is nothing we can do, nothing we can think, nothing we can believe that will change ultimate reality. We’re all buckled into the roller coaster that has left the tracks and is going to crash into the ground regardless of however much screaming and squirming we do. Now, this can be existentially terrifying (and it has been for me). But it’s also profoundly comforting. I don’t have to get it right. I don’t have to believe exactly the right thing. I can just be.
But wait, you say! Don’t we have to believe the right thing to have a good outcome when the roller coaster comes crashing down?
I used to believe this.
But then I started hearing different, absolutely committed followers of Jesus interpret scripture in exactly opposite ways. And then I learned about the human tendency toward confirmation bias and making the world around us fit into our mental wiring. And that made me pretty sure that it’s 100% impossible to ever know what is absolute truth with any level of certainty.
And any God who would send people to hell for believing the wrong contradictory interpretation isn’t really God at all. You know, the God that John said is love? If God’s very nature is love (and it is, this I have experienced personally), then God isn’t going to toss you into hell for believing the wrong thing in a confusing life. And, as a matter of fact, that God isn’t going to toss you into hell at all (or even let you choose that as some would assert – even the older brother will ultimately join the party).
So basically all theology is to me at this point is a bunch of analogies we humans have come up with to try to make sense of existence, suffering, and death. Faulty analogies.
But these analogies, when pondered with love, can point us in the direction of what is.
And that’s why I still love theology.