The purpose of theology

There are a lot of remarks people make that can discourage or frustrate me.

“We’re leaving the church.”

“I got a detention.”

“The doctor just called, and it’s not good.”

One that really gets me is when a Christian says: “Yeah, well, I’m just not a theologian. You study theology. I just want a relationship with God.”

Here’s the truth: If you are alive, you are a theologian; that is, you have beliefs about God. Now, your theology may not be specialized (Systematic, Reformed, Historical, etc.). Your theology might even be “God doesn’t exist.” But you are a theologian, and that means that theology is important for you and it should be important to you.

Let me give you just two reasons for why studying/learning biblical theology is a good thing. The first I’ll take from another writer. The second will come from Scripture.

1. Learning biblical theology is learning what God said about himself.

“Just as with human relationships, a divine-human relationship cannot begin without knowledge of some minimal truths about the Person; then the personal relationship generates the desire to know more facts, which in turn deepens the relationship, and so on. This kind of cycle ought to be the experience of every student of theology; a knowledge about God should deepen our relationship with Him, which in turn increases our desire to know more about Him.”

Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology (p. 28)

For me, sitting down and reading the Bible (not for study or teaching prep, just reading) is like having coffee with an old friend. There’s just something “good” about it. But part of a strong, growing friendship is probing each other for knowledge and insight into each other’s worlds. You can have coffee with an acquaintance; a friendship takes much more.

God wants to be far more than just your acquaintance or Savior or God. A strong relationship with God does not happen without learning biblical theology at some level. Knowing him better leads to loving him more.

2. Studying biblical theology is God’s will for every Christian.

“[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18

In case the practical side didn’t quite do it for you, here’s the other side. God not only wants you to have a strong friendship with him, he wants you to want a strong friendship with him. So, by command, he encourages us, “Learn about Me. Grow in your knowledge about Me.”

And just to make sure that we had no excuses, he gave us 1) the written Bible to read and study on our own; 2) the Holy Spirit to provide insight and cause growth; and 3) human teachers to teach us directly and answer our questions.

So, what’s holding you back from being the theologian that God wants you to be?

2 thoughts on “The purpose of theology”

  1. This is true but we must apply what we learn from the Bible. I love theology but one must be careful to make sure that they are not learn a mn made theology, it is easy to get so focused on a certain teachers writings or teaching thatwe follow blindly. We are called to follow Christ not man.

    1. Daniel Goepfrich

      No question – knowledge without application is actually worse than no knowledge (to a point). But I maintain that right living cannot be done without right learning. And that right learning (when done with the right spirit) results in right living.

Comments are closed.