Why Study Theology?Posted: September 27, 2013
Note: Theology means “the study of God”, and Christian Theology is all about understanding the God of the Bible. I mention the term “study theology” a lot in this post. By this term I do not mean going to Bible college or studying for a degree, I simply mean any kind of study that will help you learn more about God – reading books, researching online etc. I am not proposing that all Christians must attend a Bible college in order to understand their faith, but that all Christians should undertake their own lifelong, personal study of God and His word to understand him more.
Sometimes people wonder why anyone would want to study theology. They ask what is the value of spending time in books and study when Jesus is a living person who we can know personally. They argue that this knowing Jesus personally is all you need, that you can know Jesus apart from knowledge or understanding, and that the study of theology merely gets in the way of truly knowing Jesus. I’ve heard it said, “all that really matters is that I love Jesus, that I know Jesus!” This is very true, knowing Jesus and loving Jesus are fundamental to the Christian faith. The question is, which Jesus do you know?
There are many portrayals of Jesus out there proclaimed by the church and the world. But there is only one real, biblical, Jesus Christ. If you only know Jesus in the sense that you have a feeling in your heart, but no understanding about who Jesus is, then it’s possible that the Jesus you know and worship is not the real Jesus, but an image that you have made up in your own mind. This is why it’s so important to understand who the Jesus of the Bible truly is. Many people who profess to be Christians, upon finding the things Jesus said in the Bible, would outright reject him and his claims to be the Messiah because they would so strongly disagree with his doctrine.
But let’s say that we do worship the real Jesus, and we are not in danger of worshipping an idol we have created in the form of something more agreeable to us. Why then should we study theology? Quite simply, Jesus tells us to, and for good reason too.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
Mark 12:30 (HCSB)
Jesus commands us to love Him with all our minds, as well as our hearts. In order to do this, we must understand who Jesus is, what He has done for us, and the relationship that exists (or not as the case may be) between us and Jesus. As with all of the commands of Jesus, there is a point to it: we cannot love what we cannot understand. As our understanding increases, so does our belief in Jesus, and consequently so does our love for Him. Studying theology enables us to increasingly love Jesus more and more as we grow in our understanding.
Studying theology is not something that should be reserved for the academics alone, but for every Bible-believing Christian. There are many books and online resources that can help you do this from the comfort of your armchair! Here’s a few to get you started…
http://theresurgence.com/ – this site is full of articles on theology and how it affects our everyday living in practical ways.
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/what-gospel/ – this entire site is great but this particular article is a good starting point.
If you’re a Christian, I’d like to encourage you to learn more about the God who has saved you from death, so that you can love him more. If you’re not a Christian, I would sincerely urge you to investigate the claims of Jesus, because without him we are nothing.