In my last post, Living My Theology, I made a distinction between our professed theology and our actual theology. Professed theology is composed of those theological truths we make, saying, “This is what I believe.” While “actual theology” consists of those theological truths that actually shape our daily living. The previous post give more examples of what this looks like. This post reflects on why there’s a difference at all.
We want to live with our faith in Christ integrated into every sphere of life. The reality is, we don’t. At least, not perfectly. Sometimes there’s a wide chasm between the two because we’ve relegated faith to only “spiritual” things, and other times there’s a gap because we simply aren’t fully sanctified and indwelling sin keeps us from living perfectly aligned with our faith. In this post, I want to reflect on these two reasons why there’s a difference between our professed and actual theology.
Fragmented Faith: Where the Difference is Unhealthy
When self-professed Christians live in a way that their faith has little impact on their daily life, what they’ve actually done is lock Jesus in the basement. People don’t live in the basement, they usually use it for storage when needed. It’s where we keep our “extra’s.” When they need something “spiritual,” they go down to the basement to get it, then continue with their lives in the places where real life happens.
Some Christians, especially from an older generation, view their faith as something so private they will not talk about it with others. Instead, they prefer to “live their faith.” But what this actually does is turn faith into a religion of good works. It takes all the intimacy and spirituality out of faith in exchange for external behavior changes that don’t require conversations about the amazing love of God.
Others call themselves Christians but have never understood how their faith connects with real life. So they sleep with their boyfriend/girlfriend, give little attention to personal holiness, and rarely worship with the family of Christ. Their faith is a fragment of their life, not integrated into the whole.
Growing into it: Where the Difference is Healthy
Some Christians will take the challenge to evaluate their professed and actual theology only to conclude they are in good alignment. The rest of us are able to recognize areas where we aren’t.
In this sense, faith is like receiving your father’s favorite pair of shoes that you just don’t fit into. You can step into them, and you can walk around in them, but they’re simply too big. But over time, you grow into them. Obviously, this isn’t a perfect example. It breaks down in many ways. But in this sense, I find it helpful: saving faith requires us to profess certain things that we simply haven’t “grown into” yet.
I am not yet holy, and yet I have received the holiness of Jesus Christ. I have been saved from my sin, and yet I continue to battle temptation – sometimes in victory, other times not so much. I am a man of faith, and yet I sometimes pray, “Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.” I’m still growing into my faith. And you are too. We’ll be in those “too big” shoes until we graduate into glory.