Home Lifestyle Theology Matters Part 6: The meaning of the word

Theology Matters Part 6: The meaning of the word

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The word Theology comes from the combination of Greek terms, first “Theo,” means God, and “ology” meaning study of. It also contains the suffix “logy,” which means talk, speak, discuss, utterance; therefore, Theology basically is both God talk and the study of God, rituals, dogma and doctrines about God.

Theology is a belief system about God and spiritual things. Everybody has a theology and unfortunately many don’t know they have a theology, and worst of all many don’t understand the difference between a toxic theology and a healing theology.

I want to lift up in this installment that there are two theologies concerning the creation story of Genesis 1.

The text of Genesis 1 says, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was formless and void and darkness covered the face of the deep…”

The first theology I want to lift up comes from the Greek interpretation of the creation story, and that theology is called “creatio ex nihilo.” It means something out of nothing, or creation from nothing.

It is perhaps the more common theology of creation. It means God created everything from nothing. It means that in the beginning there was absolutely nothing, but God. God is the “unmoved mover and the uncaused causer.” It posits that in the beginning when there was absolutely nothing, God created everything there is out of nothing. This theology is a powerful theology.

We all have been mesmerized by the creativity of the theology that purports there was absolutely nothing but God in the beginning and, from that, God created all things.

However, there is another much older theology of creation, and that theology comes from the Black African mind, the same Black African mind that actually wrote the entire Bible.

Those Black Africans came up with a theology of Genesis 1 that did not arrogantly suggest knowing what actually was, in the beginning. So, they chose to create the theology of cosmos out of chaos, or order from disorder.

They did not try to determine what was before God or whether there was complete nothingness in the beginning, rather they started right where the text of Genesis begins with the fact that the earth was chaotic and in disorder and God created cosmos or order out of that disorder when God spoke.

The Africans suggested the greatness of creation was that God was able to bring cosmos or order out of that which was chaotic and in disorder.

The second, or African theology about creation, resonates with me. There is something even more powerful about God taking the disorder of earth and putting it in order.

This helps us all to see our lives in a brand new light. When we are born it seems we all are born into some kind of chaos or disorder. That disorder could be the disorder of the birth process where so many things could go wrong or after we are born there may be the disorder of family dysfunction.

It could be the chaos of a community that is resource deprived and is a food desert or the chaos of a nation that is created based on the color of one’s skin.

No matter what the chaos or disorder is, it is insightful to understand that God took chaos and created cosmos as an example of how we can change our context from competition to cooperation.

To experience a family or a marriage that has fallen into chaos and dysfunction only to be helped to evolve into cosmos and order is nothing short of a miracle.

To see people at odds with one another move from that chaos and the dysfunction of aggression against one another to the order of alliance and association with one another is a wonder to behold.

To find one’s self in the disorder and chaos of not having enough of the things that make life sustainable, to then be engaged by divine creativity to take the leftovers thrown out by plantation owners and make meals providing sustenance, and to create hope in what seems like a hopeless situation and to pass that divine imagination on through the rearing of children so they not only dream of better but achieve better, is a powerful revelation of human ingenuity.

To experience disharmony in an institution or system or relations between people and to have them become a harmonious symphony of human relationships is a powerful picture of what can happen when we see the kind of potential that resides in the human experience because God demonstrated that chaos can become cosmos and disorder can become order.

Theology Matters, beloved, and I choose to ride with the concept of the Africans who saw that God did something truly spectacular in creating order out of disorder. That we too can change the chaos we experience into a cosmos that heals, helps and makes whole our entire existence is a magnetic North Star for me.






Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson Sr.

Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ-Gary, 1276 W. 20th Ave. in Gary. “We are not just another church but we are a culturally conscious, Christ-centered church, committed to the community; we are unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian.” Contact the church by email at [email protected] or by phone at 219-944-0500.

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