Doctrinal Theology Versus Relational Theology

A young pastor who was struggling with his church the First Methodist in Tulsa walked up to Dr Oral Roberts and asked him if he had any advice for him on how to handle the challenge.

His question was "If I were your pastor what one thing would you want most from me?" He said Oral Roberts looked at him straight in the eye and without hesitation said "I would want to know you care! I would want to know that you were genuinely feeling with me and my family and daily lifting us and our problems to God in prayer."

This young man remarked that it was truly the turning point in his ministry for in that moment he saw that Jesus wanted him to grasp wasn't a so much a "doctrinal theology" but a "relational theology". With that shift in his thinking, God was able to turn a dying church into a growing, exciting active fellowship of caring Christians.

Before you throw your arms up in battle and say God is concerned about our doctrine. Re-read what this young pastor said. He used the term "relational theology". The word theology already implies the study of God. It is the mind's diligent pursuit of the knowledge of the concept of God and His ways. It is the study of our faith, it's practice and experience. What he understood was if a man really received revelation it will change the way he relates to others.

The point Dr Oral was emphasizing is at the core of the way in which the apostles taught the Church. Paul's letters were full of "doctrinal matters" but the essence of his doctrine was a transformation in the way we relate one with another. He concluded his letter to Ephesians which contained some of the most powerful doctrinal statements by saying

Ephesians 4:1- 2
"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;"

In other words, walk worthy of this high calling you have in Christ by the following things. The essence of this our high calling can only be understood this way.

He spent the first three chapters on doctrinal matters and the last three on relational matters. Paul's conclusion was if you really grasped what I said in the first three chapters, husbands you will love your wives as Christ loves the Church, Wives you your husbands, Fathers you your children, Children you your parents, Masters you will to...servants. The revelation if truly imbibed and the Word was made flesh in them it was to be evident in their relationships.

Oral Roberts was right. Did John the apostle not say this about the connection between walking in the light and fellowship. He said whoever is in the light we will know by the nature of his fellowship with others.

1 John 1:7
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

He is a relational God. His commandment is that we love one another even as Christ loved us.

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Pastor Poju Oyemade

Poju Oyemade is the Senior Pastor of Covenant Christian Centre, Lagos. The church office is located at 400 Herbert Macaulay Way – Yaba, Lagos. This fa...


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