Just last week I spent hours, literally the equivalent of a few days really, reading theology. Not from the classics. Not from the pen of any famous author. Instead, I was poring over the answers to theology and doctrine questions posed to the candidates that appeared before our South Georgia Conference Board of Ordained Ministry on Monday and Tuesday of this week. These are persons seeking to be admitted as ministers within our church.
The questions are deep and broad; it takes 30-50 pages to answer them completely. They cover essential terminology (repentance, Kingdom of God, resurrection, eternal life, etc.) and expansive ideas (what is the mission of the church, what role do pastors play, what can be said of humanity's need for divine grace, etc.). They also ask specific questions about the candidates personal life, their call to ministry, their ambitions, their strengths and weaknesses, and their willingness to submit to the highest ideals that are truly asked of every person called 'pastor' by any church.
It is a blessing to be a part of the process. It was not many years ago that I was going through it myself, as I sought to be affirmed and set apart by the church for the ministry of leading the church, and serving God's Kingdom purposes. But to now sit on the other side and read through answers that show evidence of deep reflection and conviction is humbling, to say the least. These women and men will serve churches across our conference, and serve God around the world. They will be asked questions and put into positions of great responsibility, and a solid theology of God's grace and Jesus' salvation will sometimes be to only thing of which they can be sure.
The same is true for us. We are tested, but rarely do the questions asked of us appear on paper. Instead, we find our lives examined by the world that wonders, 'Do we live out what we believe?'