Sounds heavy, right?
Should it be a central part of our lives? Or is it a lot of highbrow arguing that just takes us away from God? How about you? Do you find the term intimidating?
Theology comes from 2 Greek words: “Theos” and “Logia”. “Theos” means God, and “Logia” is knowledge or study. So theology is just about getting to know God.
Imagine someone going on about how much he loves his wife but in reality doesn’t know her interests which books she likes, what annoys her what makes her happy or what her favorite food is. You would suspect, and rightly so, that his “love” is pretty superficial. Similarly, without theology, we can throw a few empty buzzwords around, but in practice, we aren’t able to explain basic ideas like:
- What is sin? And why do we sin?
- What’s a sacrifice?
- Why can’t God just forgive and forget?
- What is faith?
- If God is good, why is there evil in the world?
- Who is Satan and how does he work?
- Have demons got power over us?
- How does the Holy Spirit help us?
- What about tattoos?
- Head coverings?
- Speaking in tongues and prophecy?
If you’ve got opinions about such matters (and I’m pretty sure you have) it means that, like it or not, you have got theological views!
If we believe that it’s possible to know truly God we must also believe in our need to know him. And that’s where theology comes in. In this world, God’s truths are distorted intentionally or unintentionally. We need to deal with these distortions to challenge and correct them. So, the need for theology arises. Otherwise, we’ll just stay stuck behind.
What did Professor CS Lewis say?
“If you do not listen to theology, it doesn’t mean you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones – bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas.”
Theology is so critical because knowing God is the most important thing of all. God gave us a mind not just to survive but so we can learn about and know God. Theology is important not because we want a high mark in some exam or to put a certificate on the wall. Not to win arguments or to learn verses off by heart – names, dates and so on – but rather because what we know of God determines the way we understand him which affects the way we live. What we understand and believe about the nature of God, about his character, what he wants from us influences everything in our lives. From responding to being hurt to the way we raise our children.
Theology also helps to prepare us for questions.
“In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
If our theology is wrong, it’s not just that it will take our life off track but we can also lead others astray. Throughout history, bad theology has caused a lot of problems. The slave trade, the Inquisition, sex cults, and more than a few wars. Bad theology caused the Catholic Church to think that God had forsaken Israel. Theology is the difference between seeing the reestablishment of Israel as a fulfilment of prophecy or a political mistake.
To certain people the concept of theology has negative connotations. It can sound cold and theoretical, as if we’re treating God as a lab rat, or mathematical equations to learn, but it doesn’t have to be like that. The opposite. We can study theology that is, learn about God, in a way like we learn about nature, or the stars. It can leave us speechless with awe. You can study theology as a partner might study every detail about the one they love so much.
Theology doesn’t have to be dry and boring. If you think about it, what alternative do we have?Ignorance? False doctrines? Misinformation? Apart from that, we’re the chosen people! We’re supposed to be the “People of the Book”. The world expects us to be rich in this area.
Even if you don’t want to admit it we all have different theologies. We’ll either construct our theology according to faithful interpretation of God as he reveals himself in the Bible regarding his character and desires… or we’ll base our theology on experiences, emotions and prejudices. Whether we like it or not, we’re all theologians.
Whoever rejects theology is like a husband who doesn’t even try to understand his wife. Like one who doesn’t want to change or alter his life for the sake of the one he loves. That is to say, he doesn’t really love her. However, if our motivation to study is purely to gain theological knowledge but we don’t live it out this knowledge will fester making us proud, causing us to think we’re better than other people seeing them as lacking, or inferior.
So what is it to study theology?
Very simple. It’s studying the Bible with the help of study tools that help us reach conclusions and apply them to our lives. To study and know about grace doesn’t help if I’m still living under fear, or if I don’t treat others with grace. That is to say, good theology must express itself in our lives. In fact, that is our aim and destiny. Not to study for the sake of knowledge but to know how to apply it.
By the way, we’ve made another video dedicated to the Bible, commentaries, and study tools.
Theology isn’t a rude word; It’s an expression of our sincere desire to know and understand life and God.
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