The first thing that goes when you begin to think is your theology. ~Oswald Chambers
Theology, as I understand it, refers to an established set of man’s views and opinions about God. In the religious circles, theology tends to be passed down the generations like hand-me-down clothes.
In other words, I understand theology as a set of beliefs about God that is often passed down from person to person, usually in religious circles. Many a times, we all started off learning about God through listening to or reading about someone’s theology. Hence when we choose to think for ourselves instead of merely accepting someone’s theology entirely, we begin to form our own views about God ourselves. In this sense, the first thing to go when we start to think is our theology (handed down from someone or some institution), as Oswald Chambers noted.
Often, we see that organised religion is not too fond of people thinking for themselves because the religious authorities prefer to hold on to doctrines and traditions. As I have learnt, one man’s orthodoxy is another man’s heresy. Some organised religions tend to demonise those that differ from their theology and label them as heretics. Yet this only reflects on their closed-mindedness and unwillingness to rethink about God since they prefer to put God in a box. In this respect, being called a heretic can be seen as a compliment – to be a heretic means you can and you choose to think for yourself instead of allowing yourself to be confined to a particular theology or religion.
I would say spirituality itself is organic and living, and people’s understandings of God are meant to be subjective and evolving over time. It is perhaps better not to label any set of beliefs because to do so would only inevitably confine people’s understanding of God within a particular “-ism” or “-ianity”. Even for those religions with long history of traditions, such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Sufism, native American spirituality and so on, I feel that being open to interfaith dialogues among the adherents is a progressive step towards freedom to think for oneself and go beyond traditions and theology, which can only promote peace and harmony among all peoples.
Some other notable quotes on theology:
“If we are afraid to question our theology, then perhaps our theology is questionable.” – Terri White
“Better a heart full of love than a heart full of theology. For one’s theology might be wrong, but love is always right.” – Mick Mooney