Theology Through Books

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"God caused Columbine to happen. He is Sovereign, so don't think for a minute He wasn't behind this. He has a bigger plan."

It had been a few weeks since the incident. I was at a park not far from the campus attending a benefit concert for the families of those who had lost loved ones in the shooting.

I turned to one of my friends, "You've got to be kidding me. Did he just say that?"

Bad theology leads to very bad things.

Or, at the very least, statements that aren't very helpful. Now, I have a Minor in Bible. I grew up in the church. I was in Awana for a long while. I attended Bible studies and all that. I've been reading my Bible regularly since sometime early on in high school. But I don't have a degree in theology.

So what have I noticed most influenced my views on God and how He interacts with the world?

It wasn't my group leaders, pastors or professors--though I'm sure they were part of it.
It wasn't my friends.
It wasn't my family.
It wasn't reading my Bible--though that foundation, I pray, helps keep me solid.
It wasn't even my experience--though that has tainted some of my views and raised some significant questions.
It wasn't my Bible college texts.

What shaped my theology the most were the biographies we read as part of Sonlight. Why? Because these are real people living their real lives before a real God. Biblical interpretation is one thing, but practical outplay over history is another. And that's why Scripture--as part of that history--is so important to consider as well.

The debate about a woman's role in the church is quickly shown to be shallow when compared to the lives of great female missionaries. The nature of faith is tested in the lives of those who rested solely on God's provision. The goodness of God is pulled into perspective when seen in the light of martyrs. The love of Christ is demonstrated most clearly in the joy of those who find Him.

Yet, like all subjects, I don't have a complete understanding of theology. The pieces I've assembled over time through literature and study are incomplete. I can't help my best friend figure out hope. I can't seem to walk in the path of "the New Man." I don't understand why God would refuse to work through a willing servant to save others.

I wouldn't be surprised if your theology was significantly shaped by the stories you listen to as well. Which is why it is so important to consider what you take in. Read stories from people you'd like to emulate. ...but do more than that too. Strive to hear stories from other sides. Without a little dissension you can't really wrestle with the hard questions.

And wrestle we did in my house.

I'm grateful to my parents--and few professors--who presented the tensions and struggles of theology to me as we read biographies and discussed history. It's an important aspect of humility and a learner's heart.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father

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