A question that comes up regularly in Christian circles is, Why study theology? In other words, is it truly necessary for the regular layperson to study theology? The basis of this question comes from a resistance, in some cases justified, to not over complicating serving God. The study of theology is categorized in the same arena as studying philosophy. I mean, is this not the pastor’s job to study theology then provide us with what we need on Sunday mornings? With the amount of different positions found within the church, you can find theology that is contradictory to itself. So the question is, if the theology of the church is so divided, then why not leave this to those who have been called to teach it?
The answer is, theology is necessary to avoid ignorance that can lead to accepting erroneous doctrines. It is also necessary to understand the doctrines that we have accepted in light of the body of believers we have chosen to serve with.
To avoid the study of theology does not change the fact that we daily practice theology in our beliefs. In many cases what we find is that many do not truly understand the foundations of the beliefs that they have chosen to stand on. We feel that it is our leader’s responsibility to prepare theologically and pass on to us what they have learned. I am not in agreement with this point of view. I believe that all Christians are responsible for preparing themselves to check and verify the teachings of those have been given the role of leaders and teachers in our lives.
Many false teachers have gone out with a perverted theology based on assumptions and erroneous interpretations without any type of hindrance, due primarily to a reliance upon the ignorance of many and the ability to go unchecked.
Charles C. Ryrie wrote in his book, Basic Theology, “There is nothing wrong with being an amateur theologian or a professional theologian, but there is everything wrong about being an ignorant or a sloppy theologian.”
Theology is the study of God. We should have a desire to learn as much as we can about the God that we serve. It will not only bless us and provide us with necessary knowledge, but the study of theology will also protect us against accepting as true, false teaching and bad interpretations due to ignorance. This is why all theology should be studied and compared with the Holy Scriptures and discussed in Christian circles.
Now I do not believe that everyone is called to seek academic degrees in the subject of theology, although I do believe that with the current conveniences of online seminaries on the internet that provide programs easily adjustable to our busy lives today, some that at one time may have found it difficult to go to school are now have an opportunity of preparing themselves in this way. However, even if this is not the case for you, setting aside some time to read over information found in issues related to theology provides you an advantage over those that have chosen to just sit and do nothing.
Theology is not only valuable, but also necessary. It’s main source is the Bible. It’s study is inexhaustible as it is centered on our Creator. We will not fully comprehend God through the study of theology. However, He has established a relationship with us that allows us to gain some knowledge through divine generosity on His part. He has provided us with the Holy Spirit in order to embark on this learning process. Romans 1:19 provides the basis for a partial understanding as it reads, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them”, and summarized in 1 Corinthians 1:11-12, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God, knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God”. This confirmed by Jesus Himself in John 14:26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things…”