Rob Bell, planter/pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids and the Nooma DVD's, has a new book out called Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. Rob uses the idea of a trampoline to illustrate how we should view theology.
When we jump, we begin to see the need for springs. The springs help make sense of the deeper realities that drive how we live every day. The springs aren't God. The springs aren't Jesus. The springs are statements and beliefs about our faith that help give words to the depth that we are experiencing in our jumping. I would call these the doctrines of the Christian faith.
They aren't the point.
They help us understand the point, but they are a means and not an end. We take them seriously, and at the same time we keep them in proper perspective.
Our words aren't absolutes. Only God is absolute, and God has no intention of sharing this absoluteness with anything, especially words people have come up with to talk about Him. This is something people have struggled with since the beginning: how to talk about God when God is bigger than our words, our brains, our worldviews, and our imaginations.
A few pages later he writes...
This truth about God is why study and discussion and doctrines are so necessary. They help us put words to realities beyond words. They give us insight and understanding into the experience of God we're having. Which is why the springs only work when they serve the greater cause: us finding our lives in God. If they ever become the point, something has gone seriously wrong. Doctrine is a wonderful servant and a horrible master.
What say you?