In my first philosophy class, Dr. Wiley Richards said something to the effect of, “Everyone is a philosopher. Everyone thinks. Thus everyone is a philosopher.” Some believe theology to be an academic study better left to the seminary or trained pastor. Theology, at it’s simplest, revolves around our thoughts about God. Therefore, you’re a theologian too!
Contemporary Hindrances To Better Theology:
I’ve had conversations with people who say, “I don’t want to think, Just tell me what to do.” Underneath their comment are two underlying beliefs. First, they think theology is not practical. Granted there are many people who see theology as impractical, but that doesn’t mean they are not a theologian. It simply means they are a bad theologian. Second, they don’t want to engage in the mental effort deep thinking often requires. Perhaps they’d rather be entertained, perhaps they prefer a simple emotional experience in worship or maybe they’re like myself and have a deep desire for the pragmatic. But the fact of the matter is, we know a good deal about the things we enjoy – gardening, hunting, botany, etc. So, don’t check your brains at the door when it comes to your cooperate or private acts of worship. John Piper once argued that the most engaging mental part of our week should be in corporate worship.
Consider the following:
- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” – Matthew 22:37
- “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:5
- “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” – Psalm 1:1
- Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8
- Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. – 2 Tim 2:7 (Ultimately, thinking is an exercise of faith, so do it humbly and in an attitude of dependence.)
A third hindrance can be found in the way our contemporary society defines and discovers truth. Whereas truth used to be derived from various facts and proofs, (ex: 2=2=4, or females and males are defined by their physical make up) today’s world derives much of their truth from emotion. I feel a certain way about a topic, situation, or myself, thus this makes it true, or right or wrong. Thus what I deem as true for me, may not necessarily be true for others. When this type of thinking is applied to the Bible, I don’t need to read it, because it does not define what is true, I do.
Consider the following:
- Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. – Psalm 25.5
- Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. – Psalm 86.11
- I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right. – Isa 45.19
- And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1.14
- Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14.6
3 Benefits of Solid Biblical Theology
There’s little doubt that our minds play a big role in our worship of God. What we think about God greatly impacts how we see the world. Theology influences our understanding, attitude, choice, and action. If theology is anything, it is practical. It is emotional. Theology impacts life. Here are three practical results of sound theology.
- Theology validates spiritual experience. Strong theology becomes a grid whereby God’s people can validate their worship and knowledge of God as truth. (“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.” 2 John 4).
- Theology encourages personal holiness. Knowing God deeply and accurately should motivate believers to “live in a manner worthy of their calling” (“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” Eph. 4:1). See also: (“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Col. 1:9-12.
- Theology strengthens church vitality and health. Glenn Daman wrote, “A church will only be as effective as its theology, for its theology determines its ministries, governs its agenda, influences the transformation of people, and motivates people for action…The ultimate task of the church is to bring people into communion with God. For this to happen we must know who God is, and coming to know God is what theology is all about.”
3 Behaviors to Become a Better Theologian
- Engage (Ask Questions, Meditate)