Craft & Calling
What does it mean to be a Christian Theologian?
For months now, this painting has glowed at me from my laptop computer screen. Truly, I couldn’t tell you why I put it up and surely could not explain the history of the piece itself. However, it intrigued me. Caravaggio paints Thomas as a blind man, poking away at the pierced Jesus. The disciples who peer over Thomas’s shoulder invite the view in to ask the question, what does it mean to be a friend of Jesus, to explore and understand him with others?
I came to Moody Bible Institute with my sights set on unreached peoples in the most dangerous places I could imagine. When I arrived in Chicago, I stayed for about a year and signed up for the first trip to the Middle East I could find. As I ventured into the quasi-wilderness of Amman, I rediscovered my love for people and story, especially when longing that I could ask more questions of people and discovering the great pit of unshared language resting between us (I quickly realized that five months in Jordan was not going to make me fluent in Arabic). When I returned to Chicago, I chased my hunger for stories in my own personal time as well as in my Communication Practicums. I made a grand outline for a religious survey of Chicago (of which I could only get one interview with a Franciscan monk). I went on an eight-hour excursion with a Methodist priest who recently lost her ordination because she is married to a woman. I gathered these stories and a few more, but never quite had the desire to publish anything at all.
As I walked through this wilderness, full of people who were strange to me, I realized that what I loved so much was re-forming their ideas of me, of Jesus.
Now begins my final venture, Christian Theology. D.L. Moody founded this Institute to fill the need of what he called “gap-men,” people to stand between the confusing, academic priesthood and your average layperson.
To be a Christian Theologian is to be as Caravaggio’s Saint Thomas, poking and prodding blindly at the God who has truly done it all. Learning about him by being with him, examining him by reaching into his scars. All the while, people watch overhead to see what Thomas may discover, what we theologians may say. But as the other disciples could see what Thomas was doing and why he was doing it, so must the average Christian be able to comprehend what the theologian is practicing.
To be a Christian Theologian is to prod at an understanding of an infinite God as he has revealed himself to us through the Jewish Messiah, the God-Man, the Light from Light. All the while, the Christian Theologian's most important task is to invite others to do the same.