An Introduction to Zugology

Zugology is the theology of balanced Christianity.  It is a new branch of theology that overarches all current branches of theology, being the summation of them all.

Systematic theology, biblical theology, historical theology, experimental theology, comparative theology, etc.  The list goes on.

Zugology is that branch of theology which requires the balancing and integrating of all other branches of theology into a coherent whole.  It is a balancing theology which balances exegetical theology, with biblical theology, with historical theology, with systematic theology, with practical theology and behavioural theology to result in the zugology of proclaiming and practising Christian living and behaviour.

It derives from the Greek word zugos for ‘a yoke’ as in Jesus’ invitation and offer to share our burden with Him: ‘Share My yoke and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls’ Mat 11:29.  Being double-yoked with Jesus Christ teaches us to walk in step with Him and to learn from Him, relieving our burden by His sharing it with us.  To avoid chafing their shoulders, oxen in a yoke need to walk in step to balance the load, and Jesus invites us to become balanced Christians by learning from Him both didactically and practically.   It is pronounced ‘zoo-gology’ and has the same derivation as the medical term zygote, which is pronounced ‘zy-goat’, ‘zy’ rhyming with ‘high’.

We live in an age of specialism and some people mistakenly think that a specialist in one field is an expert in another, although specialists will themselves deny this and distance themselves from it.

The reason for specialism is simply that the sum of human knowledge is too much for any one person to assimilate.

We should aim to know everything about something (the specialist) and something about everything (the generalist).  We need both breadth and depth in our knowledge and in our lives.

The medical profession has specialists who do not step outside their speciality but refer problems to other specialists.  The profession in the United Kingdom also has generalists – general practitioners commonly known as GPs.  They act as gatekeepers in the National Health Service, screening and managing the health of the general population in ‘primary care’, managing risk and uncertainty, identifying problems and referring them to the relevant specialist in ‘secondary care’ hospitals.  This generalism has been recognized as a speciality in its own right – specialising in generalism – which has developed during my lifetime.

It is time for this “specialism in generalism” to be recovered across the board in the whole of human behaviour.  The age of the polymath came to an end possibly in the 19th century, but ignoring the attempt to broaden one’s knowledge and experience in favour of gaining credibility by deepening and demonstrating one’s knowledge in a particular speciality or two, does not produce the balanced individuals that we are meant to be.

I can illustrate it from public speaking.  Very few public speakers are balanced in their discourse, and debaters even less so, who simply wish to win their argument by fair means or foul.  This fault goes through the whole of human life, and it occurs in theology and Christian discourse also. It is time that it was corrected.  This needs zugology. 

Jesus applied zugology to the devil’s half-truths Mat 4:6-7. He shows us how we are to interpret Scripture by balancing the whole teaching of Scripture to arrive at the whole.

Many people speak about balance, and positive discrimination has been used to try to balance unbalanced situations.  This is wrong because the pendulum swings too far the other way.  Human history is full of the pendulum swinging from one extreme to the other, usually when people do not learn from history.  Zugology seeks to establish the correct balance of various beliefs and behaviours and therefore draws upon the whole of human history, experience and biblical theology.  By necessity, young people are unlikely to arrive quickly at such a position so that society and the church need to draw upon the experience, knowledge and wisdom of the elderly, balancing the current attention given to youth.  Even our language needs more careful attention, as it is a primary means of communication and correcting imbalance.

“The tongue is a little member, and boasts great things … the tongue can no man tame.”

James 3:5,8

The next time you hear a preacher who is ‘too theological’, ‘too emotional’, ‘too this or that’ or ‘not experimental enough’, etc., he needs to learn some zugology and you need to learn the skill of applying zugology to the unbalanced situation.   You need to become a zugologian (one who studies zugology) and a zugologist (one who practises zugology).

I have practised zugology all my Christian life – I have been a zugologist all that time but the experience of life, with the passage of time, forced me to become a zugologian.  The basic tenet of ‘balance’ can be identified in various anecdotes and in the working practices of individuals and institutions.   It appears in various publications and self-help manuals.  However, it has no name and its theology has not been developed.  I coined the term zugology ten years ago while working on my Bible commentary in the book of Job, on 23/2/2008 to be precise, but this is the first time I have drawn attention to it publicly.

I have worked on the theology of zugology for over a decade, theologically, medically, scientifically and practically, and I aim to show that the failure to learn its lesson is the fundamental error in human behaviour about which God has warned us from the beginning of human history.

Why now?

If the question is asked, Why publicize it now? the answer is that 1. it is long overdue, and I began today’s blogpost on 1st August 2018 as a prelude to peer group distribution of the first draft of my completed commentary on the book of Acts, which makes a solitary reference to zugology, so that I need to explain it; 2. the year 2018 is a significant year, in which I had hoped to publish my more definitive development of zugology along with my studies in the book of Job, and 3. as we approach the end of 2018, my son’s birthday today is as good a date as any to begin to publicize and explain it.  He has patiently waited for my doing so, and just as he prompted my first publication What’s that Tune? in 2009 after many years of gestation, he has been prompting me ever since to progress my publications, so it is time to reward his patience with this initial blogpost.  ‘Behold, we count them happy who endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy’ James 5:11.

“Happy birthday, James”

Love from Dad!


28 Nov 2013: zugology in sermon content.

18 Oct 2017: the need for zugology among young ideologues.

29 Sep 2018: zugology applied to church-state relationships in the Establishment Principle.

5 Feb 2019: Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s use of zugology in preparing his messages and in selecting his topics.

23 Apr 2020: zugology being applied by the Scottish Government in order to come out of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

“The pandemic is a health crisis, a social crisis and an economic crisis that is causing harm on an unprecedented scale. Difficult decisions are required to balance these various, inter-related harms so as to minimise overall harm.”

Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making Scottish Government, 23 Apr 2020, page 7.

29 Jan 2021: zugology applied to historical icons.

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