This post is Part 3 in a 6-part blog series on Minimalism and Faith. (If you missed the first post, you can find it here.) Theology has to do with the study of the nature of God and religious belief. You might think theology would be pretty simple, but it’s not. I remember purchasing a book on Amazon called “Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine” by Wayne Grudem. I was interested in it, but when the book arrived, I realized it had 1264 pages! That’s almost as long as the Bible itself! Needless to say, I didn’t get very far.
The Theology of Jesus
As Christians, we generally point to the life and teaching of Jesus as the cornerstone of our faith. So, you might wonder, what was Jesus’ theology like? Was it as complex as Wayne Grudem’s book?
When I read through the Gospels (the 4 books of the Bible that tell the story of Jesus’ life), I am amazed by how simple Jesus’ theology is. It’s clear, easy to understand, and to the point. There is one story in particular that illustrates the minimalism inherent in the theology of Jesus. Jesus was a Rabbi, and he often discussed and debated with the other religious teachers of his day. At one point, one of the religious teachers asked him what he thought was the Greatest Commandment in the Law. Here’s what happened:
The Greatest Commandment
Hearing the Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40)
The Theology of Love
This is Jesus’ theology in a nutshell. Love of God and love for others is what’s most important. And I love that last line—all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. This is a really interesting statement because there were a LOT of Jewish laws—613 to be exact. And they are very detailed—covering almost every aspect of life. Jesus is making a critical move here. In his view, all of those detailed laws can be subsumed underneath the law of love. If you are trying to love God and love others in everything you do, you don’t need the long list of rules and regulations. It all comes back to love.
Click here to read Part 4–Minimalism Values: The More Important Matters