WHY STUDY THEOLOGY?
Why do we need to study the theological foundations of the Christian faith? I can imagine protests coming from different camps. One group might claim that this is unnecessary because people in our churches already know and embrace these truths. Others will complain that theology is for professionals, not for everyday Christians. This perspective might say, “Don’t bother people with theology. Just tell them what to do and how to live.”
To the first group I would say that my conversations with pastors across the country reveal that many people coming to our churches neither understand nor affirm historic Christian teachings. For many, these are relatively new ideas and concepts. We no longer live with the veneer of a Christian culture, nor are the people in our churches generally biblically literate.
“Ok,” some will exclaim, “even if that is true, theology is a cognitive exercise that has little to do with real life. I’m not a theologian, so why should I study theology?”
I would challenge that perspective on several points. First, everyone is a theologian because everyone has thoughts about who God is, if He exists, and how to live a life that pleases Him. Wouldn’t it be profitable to study the Scriptures to ensure that our assumed thinking is in line with what the Bible teaches? Second, I believe that you cannot separate thinking from being and doing; they are all integrated. What you believe does indeed impact real life, because it determines your thinking about every major area of life and how you should live.
Finally, a basic understanding of theology is necessary to become spiritually mature so that “we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching . . .” (see Ephesians 4:13-14). Good theology is necessary for discerning bad, destructive teaching. To be grounded in your faith means you will be rooted in the truths of Scripture.
So, as followers of Jesus, let’s continue to grow in our thinking and love God with all our mind, as we worship Him in Spirit and in truth.