Theology…what is it and why should you study it?
For most people when they hear the word “Theology” they can’t help but picture confusing terminology and hard to understand doctrines about God and the Bible. Truth be told, the study of theology is no small subject. Thousands of books have been written on theology and many more will be written. Theology attempts to make an understanding of the very Creator of this universe, and what He has revealed to us in His Word. It is true then, that the study of theology can be overwhelming.
True it is overwhelming, but in a very good way; perhaps in a way you may have never imagined. It is overwhelming because theology at its core is the study of God Himself. When we finite human beings attempt to study the great Creator of the universe it should make us feel overwhelmed. We should be filled with awe and wonder, joy and amazement at our great God, who although He dwells in inapproachable light, (1 Tim. 6:15-16) decided to make Himself known to us, through His Word (Psalm 19:1-14) and through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:15).
Theology can be classified as a science, that science being the study of God. The word theology is derived from two Greek terms, theos and logos. Theos means ‘God’ and logos can mean, “word,” “discourse,” and “doctrine.” Therefore Theology itself can narrowly be defined as, “The Doctrine of God.” In the broad and more common sense today though, when Christians think of theology they think of the study of all Christian doctrines. Therefore, one could define theology in a broad sense by saying it is, “…the science of God and His relations to the universe.”1
When one takes a look at what theology is in its purest form, (that form being: the study of God), they may pose the legitimate question, ‘Why would one study theology?’ I wish to give a twofold answer to this question:
I. Why would one study theology? First, the reason we as Christians should study theology is because The Word of God Commands it. Perhaps this reason is more direct and straight to the point than most expect. Theology should not be studied merely by the scholar, it should not be studied merely by the student, nor should it be studied merely by the professor. Although each class of people I have listed do and should study theology they alone should not be its sole consumers. Theology should be studied by every Christian. Theology should be studied because God commands it. It is a simple plain truth.
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
The command in Scripture comes straight from our Lord’s mouth. We who are saved, who have been called by God, are commanded to teach the world about Him. It is our God given commission and it is for every believer. For us to be able to teach the Word of God we must first study it, understand it, and grow in our knowledge of it. We must plumb its depths and then take what we have learned and teach it to others. If the Word of God is where God has revealed Himself (and it is) and if we are commanded to teach His Word (and we are), then the study of theology becomes a must for every Christian. Therefore: The first reason that we study theology is because we are commanded to teach theology, not only to ourselves, but also to those around us, thereby fulfilling our Lord’s command in the great commission.
II. Why would one study theology? A second reason comes to light as to why one should study theology and perhaps this reason too is often overpassed: We study theology to know God! What greater thing in the world can there be but to have a knowledge of God, the Creator Owner and Sustainer of this universe? The One who upholds the world by His every word. The Sovereign Lord over all who although He holds the stars, cares about mankind. The King of all Kings who is seated high and lofty on His throne in heaven. The all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-wise being who has a plan from eternity past through eternity present and into eternity future.
To see the glory of God displayed in His Word is a never-ending journey, a source of knowledge that will not cease. The knowledge of God is endless, and His glory matchless. But perhaps the greatest reason for the child of God to study theology is because not only is our God sovereign and high and lifted up and exalted in the heavens…He is also right here with us. He is not only our God, He is our Father, our Abba Father, and our Daddy. He has saved us, and given us life in Him! We are sons of God and therefore, we long to know our Father, we long to know Him and be known by Him. We have an intimate relationship with Him and as we begin to know more about God and His saving love for us, we marvel, we wonder, and we worship.
May God be praised for making Theology possible…for to know Him; that is all!
Henry Clarence Thiessen: Lectures in Systematic Theology. Pg. 2