Why Being Conversational About Theology Is Essential

Being grounded in your faith is great! But do you understand the theology you believe? It’s good to know what you believe and why.

On a Tuesday, in a brick cafe in Virginia, theology became essential. I should not say “became”; rather, theology revealed itself as essential as it has always been. But it became essential for me. My friend and I were sipping coffee, talking about the gray weather outside, warmer places, and the intersection of politics and religion (just as Emily Post advises NOT to do). These discussions were not new for us; I am a Christian and she was, at the time, an exploring pluralist who’d left Christianity behind. 

I don’t know how the conversation turned from the temperature to Jesus, but it did – as abruptly as a winter squall. 

“I definitely admire Jesus,” My friend confessed. “I just think God lets us come to him in a variety of ways. We’re all on the path to him, it just looks different – Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians… we’re all just finding our way.” 

I took another drink of my coffee. “What makes you arrive at that conclusion?”

What Do You Believe?

“I just don’t think Jesus would have a problem with all these other people finding their way. Like, they’re seeking, too. Just because it looks different doesn’t make it invalid.” “Can I share something?” I asked, setting down my spoon. 


“I definitely agree that people are seeking; they’re looking for answers. They believe there is something greater out there, and they want to attach themselves to that purpose. But – something to consider – Jesus actually took himself out of the running in a universalist framework.” 

She raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?” 

“Let’s start with how we know who Jesus is. Most of our information is from the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. All the things we like about Jesus are in there: His love, healings, resistance to power structures, sacrifice. But that’s also where we see Jesus say things that make it clear he didn’t think there was more than one way to God.” 

“Like what?” 

“In John 14, he says He is the “way, truth and life.” He even goes on to say no one can access God unless it’s through Him. He says a similar thing in Matthew 11.” I adjusted my coffee mug. “I guess what I am saying is: I like your theory. I really do. But Jesus didn’t allow for it. So I respect that you admire Jesus, but if you admire him, you have to take into account everything he said about himself. He made Christianity exclusive.”

 “I’ve never had it explained that way.” My friend tapped her coffee cup and narrowed her eyes. “I’ll have to think about it.” 

On a Tuesday, in a brick cafe in Virginia, theology was essential. And today, wherever you are in the world, it is essential as well. Have you ever:

  • Attempted to comfort a grieving friend and struggled to explain how God can be both all-powerful and all-good?
  • Tried to explain the gospel to an unbelieving friend but couldn’t get much further than “ask Jesus into your heart”?
  • Avoided tough questions about your faith because it’s too much work, or you’re scared, or you just don’t want to know?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, theology has already proved itself essential to your life – you just didn’t have the words for it! 

Theology Has the Answer

All the situations I’ve framed demand that Christian theology – the study of the nature of God – provide an answer, and it does. But wait, there’s more: theology doesn’t just provide intellectual satisfaction. It also provides direction. Like my friend noted, people of all religions are seeking answers. They are seeking God. C.S. Lewis called this attempt to find happiness and purpose the root of “all that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” 

Most people want to be happy. We want to know who we are, where we’re going, and to be at peace with our world, and therefore happiness is bound up in both purpose and identity. But even these beget theological questions: Who made humans? If God, what was God’s purpose in making them? Theology lays a foundation for answering the tough questions of these same people tired of the “long, terrible story” hunting for a God-less happiness.

If you’re a Christian, you hold the key to a God-based happiness. You hold knowledge that leads to peace and purpose because it leads to Christ. When your average Tuesday comes, will you be ready? Can you “give an answer for the hope you have… with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)? 

Do you know what you believe and why you believe it


Have you ever had a moment where you wished you could express what you believe and why more clearly? Take a moment to write down something you want to research to prepare you better next time a similar situation arises.

To learn more about foundational Christian theology in a way that’s easy to understand, check out Every Woman a Theologian: Know What You Believe. Live It Confidently. Communicate It Graciously. by Phylicia Masonheimer. Today’s blog post is an excerpt from Every Woman a Theologian, just to give you a taste of what it’s like. We can all live out our faith and communicate about it to others more clearly and confidently!

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