If you read this blog regularly or if you know me and have spoken to me at all, you’ll know that I like theology. I enjoy discussing deep questions about the Bible, God and all doctrines pertaining to Christianity. I enjoy listening to and reading other perspectives that I don’t agree with to gain a better understanding of what other brothers and sisters in Christ believe.
But often I’ve heard people say “I don’t like doctrine or theology, it’s quite divisive. I prefer to have a childlike faith and leave the deep thinking to others”
I get what people are saying, hey reading and discussing/debating points in a massive systematic theology books isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, that line of reasoning can be used to mask a sense of laziness regarding our Christian faith. Sure, not digging deeper into and wrestling with tough questions might be easier, but is it really what we need? Personally, I’ve found that digging into the depths of the Bible, asking difficult questions, wrestling with other perspectives and theological schools of thought really helpful.
I’ve been studying theology now for 7 years and I’ve been in local church ministry for the last 5 of them. In all the studying I’ve done I haven’t become cold or disconnected, but it’s driven me to love the Lord more and want to praise Him more.
One of the things that I’ve learned is that everyone, and I mean everyone, is a theologian. If you have ideas about, think about and talk about God, Jesus, the Bible or a particular theological view point… you’re a theologian. That’s an important point but it’s maybe also a scary one because it highlights the importance of what we say and how we say it. People are always listening to our words and watching our actions. Therefore, shouldn’t our desire be to become better theologians and communicators of the things of God?
The reality is that we are all theologians, so please, let’s try be the best theologians we can be! Let’s leave laziness behind and strive to be good representatives of God on earth by thinking, acting and talking is such a way that is faithful to Scripture. One of the things I did at the beginning of my theological studies was everyday I would read a chapter of ‘Concise Theology’ by J. I. Packer. I would look up all the verses referenced, wrestle with the logic and see if the Bible backed up the doctrine. I also spent many hours in friendly, and sometimes heated, discussion with others about particular doctrines and I listened to their view. But most important of all, I let Scripture have the final say!
Friends, if our desire is to serve the Lord to the best of our ability, if our wish is to be faithful servants of a wonderful King then we need to invest time in getting to know Him. As Christians we must be willing to always give an answer for our hope, that means that we also need to know what our hope is, where it comes from, how it came about and why it’s important for others.
This doesn’t mean that you need to read a massive volume of systematic theology or that you need to study for a degree in theology. But it does mean that we need to spend time in the Word of God, stretch our minds about doctrine and theology and put in the effort to understand our faith more.
In recently had a conversation with an older member of the congregation I serve and he told me that he was pondering exactly what Jesus meant when he said “it is finished”. I had another conversation with a guy about the thought that Jesus descended to hell after he was crucified and the witch of Endor from 1 Samuel 28. In all of these conversations it was an absolute joy to see people wrestling with what the Bible teaches and to see them submitting their thinking to it.
Being a good theologian doesn’t mean that you will have all the answers, but it means that you’re a life long student of the Bible who submits to the authority of the Word. It means that you devote time to learning about the things of God so as to represent Him better and communicate wonderful truths about Him in a clear and logical way.
Everyone’s a theologian, so let’s all strive to be good theologians!