The Importance of Theology

Posted on January 23, 2018 by Steve Willis in Article from The Messenger

A leader of another church recently said to me, “Our church doesn’t focus on theology.  We focus on loving God and helping the poor.”  It’s almost like he wore his lack of biblical study as a badge of honor.

I asked him, “Do you know what theology means?  It means the study of who God is.”  “Yes, I know what it means,” he quipped.  “We don’t get all wrapped up in the details.”

Rarely am I left speechless, but in this case, I just said, “Well, God bless you brother.”

There is no higher pursuit than the study of God.  Saying you want to focus on God but you don’t want to study about Him would be akin to me saying that I want to focus on loving my wife but I don’t want to listen to her when she talks to me.  When she speaks to me I learn about who she is.  She tells me what she cares about, how she wants me to go about things, how I can best please her.  One of the best ways you can show someone that you love them is to learn more about them.  That’s the purpose of theology.  Paul put it this way, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philip. 3:8).

Author Mary Black states, “Too often ‘theology’ intimidates us, and consequently many of us would never consider ourselves ‘theologians.’  Sometimes we even think of theology as an exotic distraction from simple, straightforward Bible study.  Yet as we engage such disciplines as biblical and systematic theology and incorporate them into our devotional lives and various ministries, God fuels our love for Him, our passion for His mission, and our understanding of His eternal purposes.”

Is it possible to study about God and not know Him?  Most certainly.  The first century scribes and Pharisees certainly knew the Bible but did not have a relationship with Him.  My guess is that’s what the pastor meant by his statement, that he didn’t want to be like the Pharisees.  But the more biblical model is people like Paul and Timothy, Aquila and Priscilla.  These are men and women who studied God so that they might know Him in a more intimate way.

Don’t be scared of theology.  It’s just a fancy word for getting to know God better.  I would hope that’s something every Christian would long to do.
--Steve