Why do we need to reflect theologically?
Why reflect? There is a saying in my line of work that says, “policy is implementation.” This means that in any formulation of any policies, one has to account for the implementation of the policies. Policy formulation is not simply an ivory tower exercise. The same applies to theology as well. Theology is in fact applications as well. Applications of theology in our daily lives most often stem from our own theological reflections.
And there are three reasons that I can think of why we need to reflect theologically.
Reflections help to concretise our learning
There are studies on education that show that reflections help to concretise our learning. Reflection is a level of reasoning that is required in choosing a course of action or adopting a belief. In reflecting on what we learn, we ask what exactly we learned, and how these learnings apply to our immediate contexts. For myself, I find it a fulfilling time when I was doing my reflection exercises in my bible college classes. Each time I do a reflection, I dig deeper into what I have learned, and ask myself what these mean in my own life. Moreover, my wife chips in whenever she asks me what I have learned and what it means to me. The process grounds me and makes me think about my learning.
Therefore, when we reflect theologically after we have read a passage in the Bible or an article in the internet, we adopt a thinking that orientates ourselves towards the implications of what we learned. The knowledge no longer remains simply head knowledge. And we know that any knowledge that transcends the head is likely going to be internalised much faster.
Reflections help us to realise the implications of our theology
As mentioned, reflections helps us to orientate ourselves towards the implication of our learning. In particular, as we reflect, we necessarily think about how theology relates to the events of our lives and the events of our world. At this point, theology is no longer an ivory tower exercise. After all, if theology includes what the Bible teaches us today, it then implies that applications to life is a necessary part of studying theology.
So, we find that reflections will help to direct our living towards more godly living. For example, when we learn that God is sovereign over all creations, this should by right direct us to realise that God is in control of our situations. It should help us to find peace in our hearts, knowing that our God is ruling over our circumstances.
Reflections help us to make sense of our own situation
Many times, we find ourselves ending up in situations where we do not want to be in. For example, we may find ourselves not doing well in our work. Or we may realise that our financial situation is not in the best of state. It may also be the case that our relationship with the people in church is in an all-time low.
Regardless which situations you are in, it helps by stepping back and reflecting on the situations in relations to God. When we reflect what God is doing in our selves, and how the Bible applies to our situation, we start to connect the dots of our lives. I remember I found myself despising my previous job after joining the organisation for six months. Only after two years, I was able to reflect and look back, understanding where God has led me. I realised that if it wasn’t for the job, I would not have had the space to care for my then-girlfriend. It was God’s leading all the way.
So are you ready to start reflecting theologically? Share your thoughts with me. I would love to hear from you!