Theology Becomes Biography

Last fall Rod Decker (his blog here) and I shared a chapel at the seminary (see blog post for Nov 25 for the transcript) where we explained our personal journeys when life does not work out quite the way one had expected :). During the Q&A session, one question Rod fielded went something like, “How do you prepare for being diagnosed and living with terminal cancer?”   Rod observed that one does not prepare for such an outcome. But in the living out of that diagnosis what one truly believe becomes readily apparent.

I just finished reading, You Gotta Keep Dancin: In the Midst of Life’s Hurt You Can Choose Joy, by Tim Hansel. Tim lives with chronic pain after a tragic climbing accident. In his book he writes: “All of our theology must eventually become biography” (41).

Tim word smiths Rod’s sentiment. Our theology, what we truly believe about God and ourselves, becomes readily apparent to others when life crashes down, when life disappoints. It is at these times especially that our theology is clearly read in the woof and warp of our lives. A “good” theology writes episodes which trusts God even in the deepest pain. A “poor” theology reveals chapters of railing against God, against what he allows in life. While most will never have biographies written about us, it is true nonetheless: what we believe about God in the midst of pain is the construction material that forms our individual lives—thus our biographies. The only question that remains is will one’s biography expose “good” or “poor” theology.