Thursday, October 31, 2013

Am I a Theologian?

When does one have the right to say the words: I am a theologian?  I will confess I even spelled the word wrong when I typed it for this writing. (Who would have thought there was an 'i' in it?)  But am I a theologian anyway?  The definitions say that one must be learned, expert even, before they are considered a theologian.  But is one born a theologian?  I don't ever remember a time when I wasn't aware of the ideas about life after death and its implications for life before it.  My earliest memories are of death.  Not the experiencing of it - no family member died until I was much older - but the awareness of it.  I was around three when I have my earliest memories of them, but the memories include an awareness that they had been happening for some time.  Panic attacks about death several times over the course of years (for what reasons, I cannot even speculate) imprinted upon me a deep early questioning about faith and the afterlife.  They were questions I could not articulate until much later, but I distinctly remember, by the age of 6 or 7, asking strangers in the grocery store about what they thought happened to us when we die.  Was I a theologian then?  What constitutes expert?  When one can be quizzed successfully?  And about things as ephemeral as theological "facts"?  Of what relevance even is a theological fact?  That the books come in the order of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is a fact.  But what does that matter?  I feel I am a theologian, though I could probably not pass a multiple choice quiz on the subject, or even spell the word correctly.  I can only conclude that it is the journey which defines a theologian, not some dubiously authorized destination.  I am a theologian because I seek.  And as Matthew 7:7 says, "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door will be opened unto you."  I seek, yes, but have I found the answer or the path?  Is my path my answer?  It must be so.

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