One of my teachers in the Seminary once remarked that theology has the tendency of making theological students and teachers become complacent and lukewarm about spiritual things. At first, I joined others in criticizing the teacher’s statement on the ground that good theology will always lead to good behavior and spirituality. But after some time, what he said began to make sense to me.
From my experience of being in the Seminary both as a student and also as a teacher, I came to realize that such a complacent tendency as pointed out by my teacher is very true and common both among Seminary students and teachers. Now I can affirm my teacher’s statement without any reservations.
Seminary students and teachers must realize the fact that being in the Seminary does not give them an automatic guarantee that they are will be shielded and exempted from the temptations common to Christians. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that the reality of such temptations becomes more real within the Seminary context than anywhere else. Seminarians are tempted to cheat, and some do cheat. Seminarians are tempted to commit sexual immorality, and some do indulge in it. Seminarians are tempted to lie, and some do lie. Seminarians are tempted to steal, and some do steal. Seminarians are tempted to become jealous, and some do struggle with jealousy. Seminarians are tempted to fight, and it is not surprising that cases of fighting and quarrel have been found within the Seminary context. All these temptations and struggles go to show that the temptations that are common to man everywhere are also common in the Seminary. This ought to be a constant reminder to the Seminarian.
In essence, theology is not a substitute for spirituality. It is possible for one to be theologically sound without being spiritual. And conversely, it is possible for one to be spiritually sound without necessarily going to the Seminary. But it should be noted that theology and spirituality ought to have a mutual relationship.
On the one hand, a good theology ought to produce a good spirituality. In other words, such theology will constantly lead to doxology. On the other hand, good spirituality must have its foundation in good theology. In this way, the relationship between theology and spirituality will be symbiotic, not mutually exclusive. Good theology shapes good spirituality and good spirituality is grounded in good theology. As such, any spirituality that opposes theology is not biblical spirituality. Any theology that trivializes spirituality is not biblical theology. A biblical theology is spiritual and a biblical spirituality is theological. The two must go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. For a spirituality that deemphasizes theology is not biblical just as a theology that neglects spirituality is not Christian. A balanced spirituality is biblical as well as practical in the same way that a balanced theology is biblical and spiritual.
As a theological student, you must be determined to be both theologically sound as well as spiritually fit. You cannot be an effective instrument in God’s hand if you neglect one at the expense of the other. Let this be your constant yearning and aspiration. The earlier you embrace this truth the better it will be for you both now and in the nearest future.
By Seth Kajang Bature. Seth is a student at Westminster Theological Seminary, PA.