In too many ways to get into, theology has been detached from Christian practice. This is tragic, since theology is critical reflection on what we’re doing as followers of Jesus. It isn’t an abstract pursuit for its own sake without any practical payoff.
Bruce Longenecker nicely captures the relationship of theological language to the flourishing of God’s people.
Paul’s theology is perhaps best grasped by taking account of the social function of his theological language, arguments, and concepts—all of which are intended to foster a cruciform ethos and practice within his communities. Things like Paul’s doctrine (so-called) of ‘justification by faith’, terms such as ‘redemption’ or ‘in Christ’, and salvific models such as ‘participation’ or ‘sacrifice’ are all to be translated into a distinctive personal and corporate lifestyle within the Christian communities spread throughout the Graeco-Roman world. Concern to nurture that distinctiveness of Christian identity is what unites the Pauline corpus in a way that no doctrine or motif does. And Paul would no doubt assume that the same transformed identity should be the hallmark of Christians throughout the world and years, as the character of Christ is continuously replicated and embodied within the individual lives and corporate life of his people (The Triumph of Abraham’s God, pp. 187-88).