Why Should Systematic Theology be Studied?
To conclude our introduction to Systematic Theology I want to ask and answer one final question regarding the study of Systematic Theology. The question is simply, “Why…?” “Why should you as a Christian study Systematic Theology?” This question reflects back to our first post on Theology which sought to answer the same question. Only, in this post I hope to answer the question more fully and completely.
I hope you have seen, by this time, the intense practicality of Systematic Theology. We do understand that through our study we are obeying the commands of God and also growing in our knowledge of God. But there are several other practical reasons that we should study Systematic Theology as we will see today. I hope to share in this post the many benefits that Systematic theology has to our lives and the fact that through our study of it, we will be able to faithfully defend the faith.
(I) To teach us how to obey the Commands of God: The study of Systematic theology is a study that not only teaches us about God, and what the commands of God are, it also teaches us how to go about obeying those commands. If we want to be effective in teaching ourselves what the Scriptures actually say, we are going to need to have a good grasp on the Scriptures. We cannot spend the rest of our Christian life only studying the passages of Scripture that make us feel comfortable or at ease with God. No, systematic theology forces us to be complete and comprehensive in our study of the Word, therefore we will come to an understanding of all that God commands.
(II) To teach others what the Word of God teaches: A second compelling reason to study systematic theology is because we will at some point have the responsibility to teach others what the Word of God teaches. Whether you are a pastor teaching a congregation, a husband teaching his wife, or a mother teaching her children every single opportunity you have to teach another person is an opportunity to get it right or get it wrong. By studying the full counsel of God in systematic theology, you will be far more effective in your teaching of others. Moreover, because each of us are commanded by God to teach others, we must be diligent to know God to the best of our ability and not merely communicate the bare basics of God’s truth.
(III) To help avoid wrong assumptions about God: Closely linked with the reason above, our desire to avoid misinterpreting or twisting the Scriptures should be one the greatest reasons that we study systematic theology. Because we are faulty and sinful human beings, it is impossible for us to simply read the Bible once over and perfectly understand what it teaches about theology. The ease in which verses can be taken out of context, passages misconstrued, and ultimately false doctrine be promoted (even unwittingly) must always be on the forefront of our minds when we handle the Word of God. A study of systematic theology helps immensely in this area by digging deep into God’s Word from cover to cover. Sometimes the sheer weight of teaching that the Bible produces on a certain subject will help us overcome our sinful assumptions about God and correct our thinking of who He is.
(IV) To protect us against the introduction of false doctrine in the church: When a bank teller or cashier is being trained to handle money they are often taught by their supervisors with one type of bill; the right bill. Over and over again they study what the correct version of a $20 or $50 or $100 bill looks like. They see its intricacies, its patterns, its detail and come to memorize every line, every marking, every aspect of the bill. What could be the purpose of studying these bills so intensely? Well, when they finally enter their area of employment and handle money day in and day out, the second a counterfeit bill comes by, it is spotted in an instant. Why? Because all they know is what the true bill looks like. All they are familiar with is the correct printing, therefore anything that deviates from what is true, is easily found and proven to be false. It is the same with theology. The more you study and immerse yourself in the study of true and Biblical doctrine the greater you will grow in your understanding of the Scriptures. The more you immerse yourself in the Word, the more you will know the truth. Therefore, the second false teaching comes across your path, you will immediately be able to identify it, spot it, and expose it. An understanding of what whole Bible teaches will allow you to discern whether or not a specific doctrine is valid or is false.
(V) To help of grow in our walk with Christ. Finally, a study of systematic theology will allow us as Christians to grow in our walk with Christ. It is often said of pastors and preachers of the Word of God, “The breadth of your ministry will only be as effective as the depth of your ministry.” The same is true with any and every Christian, “Your walk with the Lord will only grow in depth, as your understanding of God grows in breadth.” Systematic theology will give you an amazing understanding of God. It will help you know who God is, what He is like, and how you are to respond towards Him. All doctrines influence and impact the way you think about life and the way you live your life. Therefore it is vital to know what the Word teaches so that you will live how the Lord would want you to live.