I remember sitting in a chapel one day and being reminded about how amazing it was that I - a mere human being - could sit before the God of the universe bare my thoughts and soul before Him as I would with a close friend. As I sat before the Lord in that chapel I was reminded of something the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said long ago, as he looked into the distant future:
What an amazing statement - ‘They will ALL know me.” I was reminded of how the meaning of the word ‘theology’ actually comes from two Greek words theo (God) and ‘logia’ (meaning ‘word’ or ‘knowledge’). So the term ‘theology’ literally means the knowledge of God. Yet how many of us don’t consider ourselves a ‘theologian’? It’s like asking how many of us don’t realise that “we are children of God, yet that is what we are!” (1 John 3) Or that through baptism we are anointed ‘priests, prophets and kings’. But it’s true! God has clothed us in this amazing dignity and we so often aren’t even aware of it.
We have no trouble considering those who study the bible with letters after their names ‘theologians’ (ie the ones who really know about God) but not ourselves. This is not what God sent His own Son and His Spirit to achieve. Jesus came to invite each single one of us into the same relationship he enjoyed with His Father, moving beyond ‘knowing about God’ to knowing God personally. In the Jewish tradition, ‘to know’ someone means a deep personal intimacy, in the way a husband knows his wife; not ‘the objective collection of facts’ that western society has narrowed the concept of knowledge down to mean. Jeremiah is talking about a different, deeper ‘knowing’, one that requires “a new heart and a new spirit”. (Ezekiel 36:26) The kind Jesus was talking about when He said:
Years ago, a wise old Marist father told me something that I have found helpful;
“Theology is not about seeking understanding in order to find faith: theology is about faith seeking understanding.”
We do need the ministry of expert theologians and teachers in the Church, without whom we would struggle to make sense of the scriptures in the light of our evolving tradition. But we must never forget or abdicate to 'specialists' the entire reason God sent his Holy Spirit into the world; so that you and I and everyone else on this planet could cry out with confidence, as Jesus Himself did, “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4:6). That is our birthright, and the Spirit is the breath that enables us to do so.
Come Holy Spirit.