In my last post I introduced you to a book by Carolyn Custis James, When Life and Beliefs Collide, She has opened my eyes to theology in a new light making it a relational, practical concept. We need theology to build our faith. Whether we call it theology or not we all have some kind of theology, what we understand and intimately know about God, what we believe about who God is. We need good theology because it makes a huge difference when life begins to throw things at us and we have to live by faith.
Theology is the knowledge that God is good, it is knowing that He has been faithful to us, remembering how He has protected us, healed us, provided for us in the past. By looking back on what He has done, by reflecting on His attributes, His holiness, His faithfulness, and His Sovereignty. By simply knowing that God is in control no matter what. Knowing this, we can face difficult situations, seasons and even deal with pain. It gives us the faith to cling to God when life goes in ways we hadn’t planned, or hoped wouldn’t happen. Carolyn says that it gives us “certainty that God is good and can be trusted, even when his ways made little sense to [them].”
The second chapter of her book is called “The Dreaded T-Word and Why Women Avoid It,” and she compiles a list of reasons that women have stayed away from theology. The myths are:
* Theology is for Men
* Theology is Bad for the Soul
* Theology is for Professionals
We begin by addressing the first myth, that theology is only for men. Carolyn begins by saying,
“The presupposition is that God designed a world in which womanhood and theology are incompatible. The second [notion] is the conviction that deep knowledge conflicts with the biblical idea of wifely submission; a thinking woman will find it difficult to submit to her husband and to church leaders.”
When Mary of Bethany sat at Jesus feet He was “undoubtedly counteracting this notion when he affirmed the necessity of teaching Mary.” She uses the three passages of Mary’s encounters with Jesus, explaining how each encounter leads to the next. She sat at his feet and learned about him, because that is what she needed the most, she needed to to know him, as we all do, regardless of gender. We are all God’s image bearers, whether male or female. “Theology is knowing God. This is not a gender issue…It is about what it means to be a Christian.” I agree wholeheartedly.
In Carolyn’s second book, Lost Women of the Bible, she tells the stories of Eve, Mrs, Noah, Sarah, Hagar, Hannah, and others and provides a fresh perspective on who these women were, and where they needed God. Her chapter on Eve absolutely blew me away. She strips away our misconceptions, any baggage we have about the person, and Eve is one of those with the most baggage, everyone blames her, but she addresses where Eve got lost, and gives a refreshing perspective, redeeming her, and showing us that Eve was not lost for good.
These women weren’t just lost in the Bible, they were lost themselves, and God redeemed them, revealed himself to them in very different and unique ways. I bring up this book here because there are so many women in the Bible, there is so much to learn from them and their theology. One can’t look into the lives of the women of the Bible and say that theology isn’t for women.
In looking at how the Bible portrays women, Carolyn explains that
“they are admired for their depth of theological wisdom and their strong convictions. Women in the Bible did not need anyone to carry them. Their theology strengthened them to get under the burden along with the men and contribute in significant ways…They empowered, strengthened and urged [the men] on to greater faithfulness and were better equipped to do so because of their grasp of God’s character and ways.”
Finally she refers to Deborah (Judges 4, 5), Ruth, (3, 4) and the Proverbs 31 woman saying that “these theologically informed women were valued, praised and pursued for their wisdom.”
There have been misconceptions and misunderstandings of some of the new testament teachings on women. She seeks to correct these,
“The apostles encouraged men and women to pursue theology–wholeheartedly, freely, together. They compared knowing God to milk and meat (1 Peter 2:2; Heb 5:14) –essential nutrition for every believer…”
“Paul’s instruction for women to ask questions of their husbands at home (1 Cor 14:35) was designed not to shut women down but to open up a rich theological conversation at home.”
I have learned so much from this book and I highly recommend it, any and all of her books.