Every Tuesday we will be looking at a different theological subject, but today we will look at why it is even important. Why bother to know doctrine or theology? Doesn’t it just lead to arguments and division? Can’t we just love one another rather than worry about who is right or wrong?
Theology is the study of God, his nature and his attributes. It is a word used to describe our systematizing of doctrine and beliefs. It is an important word, but also a misunderstood one. For many the word calls to mind boring religious practice or dead churches preaching a worn out faith. It is not that and should never be.
Joshua Harris in his book Dug Down Deep says this of Theology:
I’ve come to learn that theology matters. And it matters not because we want a good grade on a test but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live. What you believe about God’s nature—what he is like, what he wants from you, and whether or not you will answer to him—affects every part of your life.
Theology matters, because if we get it wrong, then our whole life will be wrong.
I know the idea of “studying” God often rubs people the wrong way. It sounds cold and theoretical, as if God were a frog carcass to dissect in a lab or a set of ideas that we memorize like math proofs.
But studying God doesn’t have to be like that. You can study him the way you study a sunset that leaves you speechless. You can study him the way a man studies the wife he passionately loves. Does anyone fault him for noting her every like and dislike? Is it clinical for him to desire to know the thoughts and longings of her heart? Or to want to hear her speak?
Knowledge doesn’t have to be dry and lifeless. And when you think about it, exactly what is our alternative? Ignorance? Falsehood? We’re either building our lives on the reality of what God is truly like and what he’s about, or we’re basing our lives on our own imagination and misconceptions.
We’re all theologians. The question is whether what we know about God is true.
Theology is important, what we believe shapes everything. Whether Atheist or Christian or Muslim or Agnostic, what you believe about God informs how you live. As a Christian this should be close to our hearts, not because we want to be right to prove others wrong, but so we might know the God we love better. Every doctrine should do this: Drive us closer to Jesus Christ and more in love with who he really is.
Even the difficult things and the hard to swallow things in the Bible are there for this reason. Theology is a journey and a conversation and a debate. One that we mustn’t be afraid of but joyfully undertake.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
Harris, Joshua (2010). Dug Down Deep:Unearthing What I Believe and Why it Matters. Colorado Springs:Multnumah.