Wikipedia’s definition of theology is as follows:
Theology is the study of religion from a religious perspective. It has been defined as reasoned discourse about God or the gods, or more generally about religion or spirituality.
Now in a recent conversation about “Creation vs Evolution” on the Shofar Facebook group, this sentiment was raised (by a creationist):
I don’t believe in Theology, because it is man’s philosophy about the Bible.
And so I scratch my head… let’s turn to Genesis 2 and 3.
Chapter 2, verse 16 and 17:
And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
And Chapter 3:
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
And then Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And they did not die. Conclusion: God lied, and the serpent told the truth.
Huh? Not right?!
Why not right? Oh, because it was “spiritual death”, not real death… right… Or it was “eventual” death, not immediate death. Well, that, my friends, is an example of theology. Without theology, God lied and the serpent told the truth. With theology, you get to find some solutions to the contradictions and errors in the Bible.
And how is this conclusion, this interpretation, reached? By appeal to consequences. Which is clearly fair game in theology. Maybe old understandings of God did not consider God to be as “infallible” as current understandings, somewhat closer to Greek polytheism where the gods shared human flaws. However, by current Christian theology, Christians worship an infallible God. Passages must then be interpreted in ways that support that notion of God, or alternatively the flawed hand of man must be recognised in the writings in the Bible. (Personally, given the list of contradictions and errors in the Bible — same link as above, I cannot see how one can avoid recognising at least the influence of the errant hand of man. And this need not be a hurdle to Christian belief.)
Either way, essentially, my point is that this creationist’s claim of “not believing in theology”, is really more of a claim of “not believing in other people’s theology”, in favour of her own, or that of her church leaders rather. (Or am I missing something here?) If she could recognise this fact, I’d consider this blog post a success. (Or alternatively, convince me otherwise?)
Where does this rejection of theology come from? Well, Shofarians are taught to distrust theologians, because theologians often disagree with too much of Shofar’s theology.
For a nice Afrikaans discussion on this story about the original sin, take a look at die Jahoe-projek: Die mens wil nie ‘n dier wees nie, which I must thank for bringing this story to my attention.