When I sit on ordination councils, I begin with a mental checklist of theological issues to be covered. I want to make sure that the candidate is theologically sound, as well as someone who is qualified as an elder.
Usually I get a sense of the candidate’s suitability pretty quickly, and my focus changes. As I hear the doctrinal statement, I begin to realize again: This is true. This matters. This matters to me. It’s as if I lose my footing as a council member and stagger under the weight of the truth of what I’m hearing. It’s an awesome thing.
This is as it should be. I remember reading Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology for the first time, and thinking that he got it right when he wrote:
The study of theology is not merely a theoretical exercise of the intellect. It is a study of the living God, and of the wonders of all his works in creation and redemption. We cannot study this subject dispassionately!
I find myself listening these days to sermons by preachers who open the text and work their way into worship. They are theological to be sure, but they aren’t content to stop there. As they explain the text, they begin to be filled with wonder. It’s almost like their outlines are: This is true! Can you believe it’s true? Because it’s true, it changes everything! Somehow it never gets old to hear a pastor preach his way to worship.
Theology is doxology. It had better be, or something is seriously wrong. I never want to get over the truth of what I hear every week. What truth; what a God.