Skip to main content

Why Study Theology?

Theology may sound like a dusty, esoteric subject reserved for academia – but the opposite is true! Theology leads us into a deeper understanding of God, humanity, and the world in which we live. Understanding correct theology (orthodoxy) allows us to live God-centered, theologically-sound lives as we practice Christian doctrine (orthopraxy).

The initial question which arises is quite simple – what is theology? In short, theology is the study of God! If we break apart the word, we see theo, meaning “God,” and logos, meaning “word” or “speech.” You may be familiar with St. John’s prologue to his gospel, in which he declares, “In the beginning was the Word [Logos]” (Jn. 1:1). In other words, we could translate theology as “God talk”! And that truly is what theology is – talking about God in a coherent way. Theology is more than just taking scattered opinions and different references and smattering them together; rather, theology is talking about God in a way that makes sense.

Theologians make sense of revelation – and, by that, I do not mean the last book of the New Testament. Theological revelation is how God shows Himself to us, both through His Word and through personal experiences. (For a more detailed discussion on revelation, see Chapter 5.) Theologians take everything that God has revealed about Himself – through Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience – and make sense of it so that we might be able to live theocentric lives.

There is an ancient phrase by St. Anselm that very accurately sums up the work of theology: faith seeking understanding. Theology opens up a greater way of believing. The world has a tendency to view the world from a “see it to believe it” standpoint. But theologians take a different approach. They see the world primarily with faith, which leads to belief. Theology, then, is how we make sense of the faith we live and synthesizing it to construct how we should understand the world in which we live.

Of course, theology is so much more than simply studying. Theology is linked to prayer. The ancient phrase “lex orandi; lex credendi” supports that faith leads to understanding, so if we don’t pray, our theology will be empty and void. Thus, all you need for understanding theology is a pure mind and a pure heart. You don’t need advanced degrees to understand God. The fullest and richest encounters with God come from the deepest faith in Him. Indeed, the words of David are a sound prayer as we begin to pursue theology.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51:10,12 (NIV)


Popular posts from this blog

Review: Trinity Without Hierarchy

Some recent evangelical trends have insisted that the Son is subordinate to the Father. It is in response to such complementarian theologians that the contributors to Trinity Without Hierarchy: Reclaiming Nicene Orthodoxy in Evangelical Theology (Kregel Academic, 2019) write. Edited by Mike Bird and Scott Harrower, sixteen respected theologians from around the world have come together to rescue the doctrine of the Trinity and reclaim the Nicene position, that all persons of the Trinity are co-eternal and co-equal.

The first essays introduce the doctrine of the Trinity from a New Testament standpoint, followed by a set of essays that trace Nicene Trinitarianism through church history, from Athanasius to the Reformers to Pannenberg. Although written with varying levels of difficulty—from introductory surveys to advanced theological treatments—each essay is short and digestible. The implications of the doctrine of the Trinity meet the challenges of modern evangelicalism, particularly su…

Review: Practicing the Preaching Life

Most preachers burn out. So claims celebrated homiletician and preaching professor David Ward. Ward contends that, while preaching is a life-giving activity, most practices of it lead to exhaustion and life waste. In his new book, Practicing the Preaching Life (Abingdon, 2019), Ward sets out to paint a practical theology of preaching that spiritually forms preachers and brings renewal, not only to preachers, but to their listeners as well.

Ward, as a student in the New Homiletic, draws heavily on Augustine and Aristotle, who view preaching as a means to embed virtues within the preacher. He begins by establishing a correct theology of preaching: what makes good preaching "good"? What are the offices of the preacher? From there, he moves toward practical applications, including weekly sermon preparation routines and sermon forms. Ward's approach to preaching practice, however, diverges from traditional books that either offer homiletical theory with little application, o…

Review: The Significance of Singleness

In this much-needed book, theologian Christian Hitchcock develops a vision for singleness and the church. Recent evangelical tendencies, argues Hitchcock, view singleness as a problem rather than an asset, a curse rather than a blessing. Drawing from her own experiences as a single Christian woman, Hitchcock skillfully combines personal reflection, historical evidence, and biblical-theological support to claim that single persons are themselves a theologically significant group.

Hitchcock begins by tackling the problem of singleness head-on. She describes the perception of the “problem of singleness,” from pop culture to the Marriage Mandate Movement. In her view, American evangelicalism views marriage as the most desired social institution, under which nothing can compare. Most of her examples come from her experience as a student and professor at small Christian colleges, which have a notorious tendency to inflate issues of marriage. Hitchcock then turns to three figures from churc…