Theology is defined as, ” the study of God and of God’s relation to the world”.
Theologian Morris Ashcroft has defined theology in this way, “[Theology] seeks to study, understand, and make a coherent statement of the doctrines of the Christian faith…”. In other words, theology is important. All Christians are called to be theologians. That does not mean that all believers can or will study and understand everything the Bible says. Theology itself is but a means to an end. By that I mean that our study of God’s Word should lead us into a more passionate, humble and loving understanding of who God is and what God intends for us.
There are five reasons all believers should study theology (I respectfully lifted many of these points from Dr. Walter Johnson’s Systematic Theology class notes during my time at North Greenville University).
1. Humans are rational creatures and feel the need and necessity to organize our beliefs into a coherent whole. What we believe about God and about all the Bible teaches should be interconnected and non-contradictory. The Bible is not a doctrine floating out here and another floating out there, and theology seeks to help us bring all the teachings of the Bible together into a coherent whole.
2. Theology leads to a greater knowledge of what God has revealed. Echoing the sentiments above, theology is not about a Bible teaching that is disconnected from another Bible teaching. Theology seeks to undertand what God has revealed as a complete and sensible package.
3. Theology allows Christians to fulfill the Great Commission. In Matthew 28:19-20, Christians are called upon to go and make disciples (evangelism) and then to teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded. Without a knowledge of what God’s Word teaches, we cannot accurately teach the Bible’s truths. Therefore we disobey the One who sent us out in the first place.
4. Theology allows Christians to grow in their spiritual lives. I will go on record as saying the most passionate, humble and Christ- exalting people I’ve ever met all dug deeply into the Word of God. Likewise, I’ve yet to meet anyone who was passionate about the cause of Christ who did not drink deeply from the well of his Word. The more we know of him, the more we can love him and follow him (1 Timothy 6:3). Theology reaches the heart by way of the head. When the great Baptist theologian J.L. Dagg wrote about theology he said that it should “improve the heart” and be “deposited deep in the heart”. He also called studying theology just for the sake of studying theology as an “abuse and profanation”.
We study theology because we love God and want to love him more! You cannot love someone you don’t know. God has given us his Word that we may know his Son and therefore love him.
I, for one, could not understand why anyone would want to immerse themselves deeply in the well of God’s truth for any other reason than ultimately glorifying him.
5. Theology helps the believer to think through his/her faith so that any fuzzy thinking should be clarified. Theology is not to be undertaken to belittle or prove anyone wrong. Theology does help us correct any errors we might have concerning God and his Word, as well as faithfully teach others. Theology helps us fine tune our thinking about the amazing truths of God’s Word! Theology also helps us stay away from error. Many people have fallen into cults, legalism, etc. because they did not know even the basics of God’s Word.
In closing, don’t be afraid of theology. Studying God’s Word should be one of our greatest joys!