Why Is Theology So Important? Can’t Jesus Be Enough?
I remember reading a book a number of
years ago where the author was very insistent that all we need is
Jesus, and Jesus is enough, and we don't need anything but Jesus.
We don't need these fancy formulas about Jesus, we don't need all of
the church's theological musings, we just need Jesus. And that sort of
argument on the face of it can sound really spiritual, I mean who wants to
disagree? What Christian wants to say, "No, we don't need Jesus."
Of course we need Jesus. Of course Jesus is enough. Of
course Jesus is sufficient. But when you press on that a
little bit, it hardly makes sense. Because when we say Jesus is
enough, or all we need is Jesus, we have to ask the next one, well
what is it about Jesus that makes him all that we need? Or if Christianity is
all about Jesus, what is it about Jesus that we want to be all about? As
soon as you start to say something about Jesus, if you say, "Well, it's
because of what he did on the cross, or because of the resurrection, or
because of how much he loves us, or because of his teaching." Once
you begin to answer the question, you've gone into the realm of theology.
So folks who think, "I want Jesus, not theology." They don't have either.
Because you can't have Jesus and have him mean something to you unless you
know some propositions about him. If I tell you how much I love my wife and
how amazing my wife is and then you say, "Well, tell me how tall is she?"
And I say, "I don't really know." "Well, tell me what color are her eyes?"
I say, "I'm not really into those sort of things about her." Well, not
only would you question how much I really love her, you would wonder
if I could pick her out in a crowd, I don't seem to know anything about her.
I don't seem to know any propositions, any facts. Am I just speaking in vague
generalities? And the same is true with Jesus. We can speak in these
spiritual platitudes of how much we love Jesus, but we need theology if we're
going to explain who he is, the God man, what he accomplished on the cross
in his death and resurrection, and what it means for him to be
reigning at the Father's right hand, to be the second person of the Trinity, to
come back again to judge the living and the dead, to send his Holy Spirit to be
the very presence with us in the world. All of these things get into the realm
of theology. So there is no Jesus without some theological parameters and
some robust filling out and filling up of what we mean about Jesus.
And he himself taught this, unless you know that I am he,
unless you confess that I have come from the Father, all of these great
declarations, the "I am" statements in the book of John. Jesus would not have
had patience for people who said, "I just want Jesus, you, and
I'm not interested in learning about you and understanding
what sort of messiah you are." No, if we're going to have
Jesus, we need to have theology.