One of the most daunting themes I’ve observed in my few short years as a Christian is how little most believers are impassioned to know the deep truths of God. Typically I often hear people share the sentiments of ‘theology just really isn’t for me’, ‘ I just want to love Jesus’ or ‘ isn’t theology just for pastors and preachers?’. This is a sentiment I’ve shared in the past and one which often comes from a good place, however, it is one which robs us from the joys of worshipping, beholding and magnifying God for who He is.
Everyone is a Theologian
We make theological statements every single day. We can’t avoid it. To say that theology doesn’t matter is to make a theological statement. Whether you have a BSc in systematic theology or whether you’ve never seen the inside of a Bible, you have theological views. It is inescapable. The word theology is made up of the words Theos (God) and logos (word), therefore theology simply means meaning “words about God”, “God-talk.” or “the study of God”. We all have views and opinions about who we believe God to be. To say that God is Love is to take a theological position and in a similar vein, to say that God doesn’t exist asserts a theological view. We all talk and think about God. What separates the believer from the atheist is how accurately our various theologies line up with God’s revelation of Himself as revealed in Scripture.
Theology is Transformative
I’ve often seen many people dismiss theology as this abstract discipline which has no effect on the day to day life of a believer. But on the contrary, biblical theology is the heartbeat of the Christian. True theology is not a theoretical exercise but a transformational practice. Knowing God and being known by God changes you. If your theology leaves you unchanged and apathetic towards God, then it is not biblical theology.
Your theological framework affects your worldview which in turn dictates how you live your life. If your theology leads you to the conclusion that God doesn’t exist and thus there is no life after death, then how you spend your 80 or so years on earth drastically changes. Alternatively, if you believe in God’s existence and life after death, how you spend your short time on earth becomes all the more important. In the same way, what you believe about God, His nature, His character and how He has revealed Himself in scripture, drastically affects not only how you live your life, but also how you worship, how you interact with God and interact with His people. None of which can be done rightly in the absence of correct theology. Let’s take the example of the sons of Aaron in Leviticus 10. The two sons tried to raise an offering to God which seemingly is a good thing and something they ought to be rewarded for right? The story plays a different tune. Although their motives may have been pure, because of their lack of knowledge of who God is, they gave an offering before God which was described as ‘foreign fire’ and consequently they were consumed by God’s fire.
This same issue is still present in many churches today. Due to apathy towards biblical studies and theology, many people, although their hearts are sincere, sincerely worship God in a way which is antithetical to the teachings of scripture. In some instances, some people end up worshipping a completely different god as opposed to the true God revealed in the scriptures. What you believe about God matters! What you think and believe about His nature and His desires for you affects every part of your life. We need theology to know God rightly and to also live rightly.
Loving theology is loving Jesus
As Kevin DeYoung brilliantly puts it, “those who say that ‘I don’t care about theology, I just love Jesus, don’t have either”. Loving Jesus and loving theology aren’t mutually exclusive options for a believer, the two are inextricably linked. Let’s imagine for a moment that I told you that I love mother, that she is my entire world and she’s all I care about. Imagine you were to ask what colour her hair was and I was unable to give a correct answer, you would very much question whether my affections for her were true! In a similar fashion, if you claim to love Jesus, you would not only want to make Him known but you would aspire to know Him. Not in a generic and vague sense, but to know Him intimately.
If you love Jesus, you will be able to explain why you love Him and what it is about Him that you love. Who is He? What did He accomplish? What does His resurrection mean? Why did He die? Who is His father? All of these are theological matters! Loving Christ and caring about theology are two sides of the same coin.
Theology should always end in worship
Theology may start in your head but it should end in your heart. True theology ends with you, savouring, cherishing and magnifying Christ. This is what we examine all throughout the Psalms, David when reflecting on what he learnt about God from the Prophets and the Torah, would fall on his knees and cry out in worship! Biblical theology ought to stir within us the same response. The more we immerse ourselves in biblical doctrines such as the imputation of Christ’s righteousness on us, the only true and right response is to fall on our feet and cry out ‘ABBA!’. As Matt Capps brilliant puts it :
Theology engages our emotions and shapes our living. It is not an exercise in head-scratching puzzles, but a discipline that should lead to heart-stirring emotions, which in turn leads to worshipful obedience in every area of life. It is by knowing God that we come to love Him, and by loving Him that we come to know Him.Matt Capps
So should you care about theology? Absolutely. Not to become lofty in our intellect and wiser than the next man, but to instead grow in our understanding of God so that we can, powered by the Holy Spirit, reflect and conform to His image and His will. The pursuit of theology for the Christian is not an intellectual pursuit, it is pursuit to know Christ so that we can make Him known.