Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Applied Theology

Some things in life are both funny and convey wisdom at the same time, and by nature they are usually the best examples to help us remember simple truths. One regularly scheduled event in my college days was the Friday colloquium where different scientists would present to the department a lecture about their research.

I could only understand a fraction of what was being said, but we never forgot the beginning. It was a running joke that the difference between a theoretical scientist and an applied scientist is that the applied scientist could turn on the overhead projector. Everyday in a laboratory the applied scientist was testing theories by tinkering with many stubborn machines that often had a mind of their own. A projector was easy to conquer.

The theoretical guy rarely came out of the office where he worked with pen, paper & computer. It was all math, and the secrets of the universe were waiting behind every equation - Greek I might add - for this guy.

Well, up steped the professor while fumbling pieces of paper and transparencies as the audience awaited the revelation of one particular cosmic truth. "Can this guy find the 'on' switch?" After a few walking orbits around this complex optical device – the projector – an applied scientist stepped up to help the theoretical guy find the switch while the rest of us chuckled.

This story can also describe the oftentimes gap between the accumulation of theological knowledge and the application of this knowledge. I personally love the study of theology, but these days I focus on the application of truth first in my own life, then I try to help others with their walk with God and finally I try to reach others.

In the classic movie
Glory with Mathew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington there is a scene where one young soldier is showing his skill as a marksman at target practice. The colonel notices this skill and steps up to ask him about where he learned it to which the soldier replies, “Hunting squirrel.” The colonel then pulls a revolver and begins to fire it near the soldier’s head while yelling at him to reload and fire.

The young man’s skill fails him as the simulated stress of battle adds a variable that he had not yet anticipated. In battle you have to shoot well while someone is shooting at you. In applied ministry we have an adversary and a world that does not particularly want to be taken for Jesus, and there are many unanticipated trials that test what we think we really know.

God’s word contains all that we need for the goal of personal growth and kingdom advancement, but even though serious study and academics are involved the fullness of God’s truth is only realized and acquired as we advance, fight and experince God's truth.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16,17


Beetle & Chan said...

I agree with you that we are to be fighting for and experiencing this Truth. All in all, we pray for the pain and suffering to go away though the truth is that its a reminder that God has prepared a better place for us. Ecclesiastes 12:1-7

tinybeetle said...

Excellent clip from Glory. I had not seen that yet. Thank you.