Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
As I am still at the beginning of both my studies and the development of this website, I think it is important to ask the question of why is theology important to study. For some, the idea of studying theology is an exciting pursuit. However, I suspect for many it seems dreary and dull.
Theology Seems Dull
If you were like me from six years ago, you probably picture the study of theology as something belonging to old men sitting in a dusty den arguing incessantly about scriptural minutiae. It was unappealing. And having come to the faith in a single church with like-minded people, I never gave much thought to it. Whenever someone mentioned theology, I just pictured people arguing over nothing. But most importantly, I just assumed that Christians everyone agreed on the big things. It wasn’t until I started talking to Christians from outside of that circle that I discovered the importance of theology.
Along with meeting new Christians, I was introduced to whole new worlds of ideas, ideologies, and beliefs. Some perspectives differed from mine only slightly, such as whether or not Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews, which is easy to look past. Others, such as the sequence of future events, seemed inconsequential because they weren’t immediate. However, it was when I met brothers and sisters that believed distinctly difference things about how we are saved that I became interested in theology. I realized then that not all Christians agreed on the big things and that theology was more important than I had thought.
Theology Is Exciting
I dove into learning about the issues. As I did, I discovered many debates, questions, and lines of thinking. Not only that but that these debates have been taking place all throughout Church history and all over the world. I admit, I was overwhelmed at first. At times, I experienced crises of faith. But, by the grace of God, I persisted. And then I noticed something truly amazing. The more I learned about the differing points of view, the more I learned about God. My faith in and knowledge of God grew in leaps and bounds. I am thankful for all that God has shown me and taught me throughout the process. And I am excited for what God still has to show and teach me.
For those unfamiliar, theology is the study of God. Because theology can be applied to the study of any god, it is important to know that when I say theology, I am speaking specifically of Christian theology. Whether or not you think fondly of theology, you have engaged in theology as a believer. You have learned about who Jesus Christ is and what he did for us, at the very least. Hopefully, you have read the Bible and contemplated its application to your life. All of this is part of theology.
When we study theology, we are seeking to better understand who God is as revealed through his Word. Moreover, the idea that we can better understand God is, in fact, a theological perspective. Are their disagreements? Absolutely. But sometimes it is necessary. For example, the apostles themselves had to confront incorrect theology, which is why we are warned about false teachers.
Why Theology is Important to Study
One reason why theology is important to study is that it helps us to be better prepared to address questions about our faith. Peter encourages us to always be prepared to give a defense or answer for our hope (1 Peter 3:15). Are we going to be able to answer every question? Probably not. However, as believers we ought to do our best to be ready and willing to both share and explain the Gospel to others.
Another reason is that studying theology helps to protect us from false teaching. There are serious consequences to being led astray by false teachers, which Peter warns about heavily (2 Peter 2). However, by studying theology, and also the history of the Church, we are better prepared to spot false teaching and not be caught up into it.
Theological Word of Warning
While I hope that you see the importance of studying theology, I do have a word of warning. Be mindful to listen to godly brothers and sisters that have come before us. New is not always better. Your goal in studying theology should not be to blaze a new trail in the annuals of history. Your goal should be to draw as near as possible to the truth expressed by Jesus and his apostles. To abandon the teachings of those who came before us and create a whole new interpretation of the gospel is to invite false teaching into your life.
Always weigh your theology against the history and tradition of the Christian faith. You will undoubtedly disagree with points here and there from other Christians in the past. This has been true for me. However, if you are finding yourself disagreeing with the majority of the beliefs held by Christians in the past, you need to reevaluate your studies. You are most likely drifting away from the truth of the Gospel. Also, be mindful of those who preach and teach that believers have had “it” wrong from the beginning and that they have the “real” truth. These are wolves in sheep clothing attempting to draw you away from the truth of the Gospel.
Study to better know God but be on your guard. Prayerfully and patiently evaluate your beliefs against the Bible and Church history.
May the Holy Spirit instruct you and keep you in the ways of Jesus Christ.