What is theology? According to Merriam-Webster, it is: “the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially: the study of God and of God's relation to the world; a theological theory or system (Thomist theology) (a theology of atonement); a distinctive body of theological opinion (Catholic theology); a usually 4-year course of specialized religious training in a Roman Catholic major seminary.” Let us stick with the most generalized definition, that of: “the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially: the study of God and of God's relation to the world.”
Can we properly study God and God’s relationship to the world without necessarily studying religious faith, practice, and experience? How else would we know anything of God without studying everything we know about God... unless God came to each and every member of humanity individually, sharing with them all knowledge of Himself? What then would be the point of anything religious? We’d all know all about God. There’d be no need of revelations, prophecies, or religious practice... and we’d obviously still be in the “Garden of Eden”, not yet having eaten the fruit of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”. The human race would still be innocent and in its infancy.
We are no longer innocent, nor are we still an infant race. We are fallen. We have fallen, and as such, we no longer have such relationships with God, for we have walked away from Him and we must struggle to quiet ourselves - to find those “mountaintop experiences” whereby we can “hear” God’s “voice” and discern what it is that He wants from us... and for us. We share those experiences with one another, and as we share what we know about God with others who desire to know God more, we form religions. This... is part of the fallen human condition.
Humanity has been dispersed all over this globe by the winds of time and change, experiencing different things - learning different things from God - as she went. We have amassed volumes of information about the globe across which we have traveled and about the universe in which this globe is afloat, and we struggle now to unravel the mysteries of it all. Some look forever outward for more and ever more clues, as if the clues themselves could ever answer the questions that they themselves bring to mind.
Others look forever inward, ignoring the things that the “explorers” have found as they - as we - went forth seeking to… “fill the earth and subdue it”. They believe in God, but they don’t trust the very evidence that our earliest philosophers and theologians looked to to discern the nature of God - the character of God - the Spirit of God. All they believe in is the scriptures that these ancients generated in response to the evidence that they had, which is the same evidence that we have today - the universe in all her grand display and the human soul, which is moved by and within it. Thus a divide grew between the explorers of the universe and the believers in the God of the universe as each sought, in their own way, to answer the deepest question that consciousness can inspire: “Who are we and where did we come from?”
I was born
and raised a Southern Baptist in the heart of the Bible-believing
I can remember having questions as a nine or ten year old kid walking the aisle of our church where I was told not to question - that faith is not questioning. I remember putting the questions deep down inside me, trying my best to bury them so deep that they would never bother me again, and I… “accepted Jesus”. Less than a decade later, I entered college, and the questions started coming back up. The church had no answers and gave the same old worn out line, “Some things we’re just not meant to know. If you really had faith, you wouldn’t ask such things.” I would then go back to college where I was expected to ask questions and was expected to answer them as well.
My world was torn into two halves, and I was expected to live in them both. I tried to bear up underneath the load for several years, but I could not. I grew weary playing the “game” of the church. It made little sense, and as I “grew” and “matured” it became downright childish to me - like the fantasy of Santa Claus at Christmas time. I left the church in my early to mid-twenties, not due to a lack of information about the church, about the Bible, and about Jesus, but precisely because of the information that the church had fed me all my life about them. It seemed to me that science had a much firmer grip on reality than did the church, so it became my “religion”. I attended its “church”.
My world made sense without the church to interfere - to throw in those little rules about morals and stuff. Life was exciting! I experienced it. I shed off the cloak of morality and ran full speed ahead, doing what I wanted. The world revolved around me. I was the center of the universe for twenty or so more years until… until my universe quit revolving and left me standing there all alone, naked, blind, and hurting so badly that I just called out through universe to the God of it - to the God who must be there - behind it - within it - because of it. God reached down through His universe and saved me despite the flagrant ineptitude of the church to convince me that there was indeed a God of any kind through its insistence that it didn’t matter what all the evidence said, they had a book that said otherwise. I learned that the church had it all wrong about faith. It’s not that faith is believing, and just not questioning. It’s the exact opposite. It’s that faith is questioning and stepping out in faith anyway, doing that which we know to do, confident that God will supply the answers as they are needed.
Though I had been raised in the church and knew all about Jesus, I had never actually met Him or read the book that the church held as its evidence for Him (at least not all the way through, for I had only read it in the chopped up little segments that the church offered it in their sermons, Sunday school classes, or summer retreats). I decided that, if I was going to believe in the God of the church, I, perhaps, needed to read His book. I started “collecting” Bibles - different ones - cheap ones (they are all the same on the inside, where it matters), and I started reading - no - devouring the “Word” of God, and I found, once again, that the church had it all wrong. The Bible was not the evidence for a living God. That was found within me - within any and all who made up the church or those who wrote the books of the Bible - and as such, that could never be taken away from me.
I met Jesus in the garage of my house, I got to know Him through the reading of the Bible in my bedroom each evening, and my universe started revolving again; this time, around its God. There is a reality out there folks, and it is God’s and God’s alone. Any man that tells you he holds God’s ultimate and perfect reality in his feeble, little mind is either a liar or fool. All I can say is, “There is only one God, there is only one universe, and there is only one way. You are both right about God, you who uphold the evidence of the world and you who uphold the evidence of the Bible. It’s just a matter of perspective.”
God first grabbed my attention on June 22nd, 2003 when my universe quit revolving. When I responded to Him, He revved it back up for me again on June 24th, giving me a peace and quiet assurance like I had never had before. He gave to me purpose, direction, and a sense of value that was beyond my wildest dreams. I had no desire to “explain” anything (or to have it explained to me). He simply took my burdens away from me, fed me, and strengthened me with what I can only explain as “manna from heaven”. The divide between the evidence of the world and the evidence of the church was somehow slammed shut. Somehow, I don’t know how, but somehow I knew that God would, in His time, build a bridge between the two views, but for then, in that time, I was relieved of the burden of worry about the... “gap”, and I just did what I was supposed to do - I just… obeyed.
Since then, I have spent four years getting to know the God of the universe through the reading of the Bible. As God kept me nourished with manna in the early months of my faith, He has since led me along the perilous path that lines the divide between the church and her “religion” and science and her “religion”. He has built that bridge. He has closed that gap. I cannot explain what happened. All I know is that God showed Himself to me in a very real and powerful way, and I believed in Him - really believed in Him, and I questioned Him every day as I read the Bible. He was faithful and answered the questions in His time. The “books”, My Books, of Hawk’s Blood are the record of God’s answers to my questions - they are the answer to the question, “Who are we and where did we come from?”
This is no simple answer, folks. It’s
not something that I can just print out in an outline on a sheet of paper or
convey to you in a conversation. It’s something
that melds together the view points of the whole