My Christian Theology class discussed today an interesting book called A Little Exercise for Young Theologians by Helmut Thielicke. With only 41 pages, it truly is “little,” barely long enough to count as a book. Quick readers could finish it in under an hour. It’s worth the hour.
The book warns theology students of various dangers that can come about from theology study. Thielicke was a German professor who used this as an introduction reading for his classes to guard against what he calls theological “puberty.”
For the sake of time and space, I’ll touch only one of his many valuable points. He expresses a fear of slipping into thought of God in the third person. Instead of studying theology to know God personally, it’s easy to distance yourself and read the Bible without remembering it was written to you. The first time the Bible records someone speaking of God in the third person is when the serpent asks Eve, “Did God really say?” And we all know where that led.
“In contrast with this, the crucified Jesus, out of the uttermost darkness of abandonment by God, does not speak to men, does not complain about this God who has abandoned Him,” Thielicke says. “He speaks to Him at this very moment — in the second person. He addresses Him as My God and even expresses His complaint in a word of God, so that as it were the circuit between Him and the Father is complete.”
When we have trouble in our lives, do we first ask, “Why is God doing this?” or, “God, why are you doing this?” Jesus turned first to God, and so should we. I’ve often prayed before reading this little book that God would not let me slip into that pattern of thinking. I don’t want to think about God. Why should I when I can speak with Him personally in every moment? That is also my prayer for this blog. My blog isn’t just for friends and strangers to read and leave comments. This is my conversation with you, God.