The third degree – from Pod Bhogal of UCCF: Theology, mission and ‘The Good God’

Mike Reeves is Head of Theology for UCCF: The Christian Unions. We caught up for natter about theology, mission and his new book The Good God.

PB: Mike, you work for UCCF, which is a missionary organisation. Why is it important for UCCF to be theologically rigorous?

MR: Let me give an example (and we could do this with any part of our Christian belief): our talk about God.

Without being rigorous and specific about which God is God, which God will we worship? Which God will we ever call others to worship? Given all the misconceptions people have about ‘God’, it simply will not do for us to speak abstractly about some general ‘God’.

And where would doing so leave us? If we content ourselves with speaking of God only in terms so vague they could apply to Allah as much as the Trinity, then we will never enjoy or share what is so fundamentally and delightfully different about Christianity. No, we want to be very clear about which God, which gospel we believe in and proclaim. Only that way can we distinguish the true gospel from false gospels, the majesty of the living God from that of idols.

PB: What has theology to do with mission?

MR: Theology — thinking through how God has revealed himself to be — provides the essential light for all our mission. We learn to proclaim what is true. Quite simply, then, if our mission is not theologically driven and shaped, it is not Christian, for it is not shaped by God’s truth.

But theology also provides the vital heat for good mission. The Puritan Richard Sibbes once said that a Christian singing God’s praises to the world is like a bird singing. Birds sing loudest, he said, when the sun rises and warms them; and so it is with Christians: when they are warmed by the Light of the world, by the love of God in Christ, that is when they sing loudest. The knowledge of the living God and his grace warms us so that we want to make him known and, as our understanding of his kindness deepens, we begin to share his passion for the lost. Good theology both informs and fuels good mission!

PB: Tell us about your latest book, The Good God. What inspired you to write it? Why should students — and non-students — read it?

MR: I certainly didn’t write it as an intellectual game: I want people to taste and see that the Lord is good! The thing is, it is only when you grasp what it means for God to be a Trinity that you really sense the beauty, the overflowing kindness, the heart-grabbing loveliness of God — and that is what I want to get out there. I want students — yes, and non-students! — to know God better so that they might love and enjoy him more fervently.

That, of course, will make for more hearty, faithful and winsome evangelism, but it also affects everything: the triune nature of God affects everything from how we listen to music to how we pray: it makes for happier marriages, warmer dealings with others, better church life; it gives Christians assurance, shapes holiness, and transforms the very way we look at the world around us. No exaggeration, the knowledge of this God turns lives around. That’s what I’ve tried to unpack in the hope that it will refresh many.

The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son and Spirit by Michael Reeves is published by Paternoster, £9.99, ISBN 978 1 842 277 447.

Pod Bhogal writes ‘The third degree’ column for EN.He is head of Communications, UCCF: The Christian Unions —
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