The Pen

Remedial Theology (1): Why Theology?

[This series began life as a series of weekly summaries of core theological concepts using Louis Berkhof’s Summary of Christian Doctrine as a road map. I’ve adapted them slightly for the blog and I pray they’ll be a blessing.]

Theology has hit hard times. Once the queen of the sciences, the study of God has hit hard times – both from outside the Church (an understandable reaction) and from within the church.

“It’s too cerebral…it’s a distraction…it’s divisive…I just follow Jesus” – the refrains of many Christians against in-depth study of the Scriptures and theology in general continue to clamor for our attention.

Yet for all our disdain for theology, we’ve never been more theologically anemic than we are now.

When a prominent megachurch pastor can argue for a cult member to address a conference of pastors in a prominent evangelical denomination, you realise we have a problem.

When the top-selling book in evangelical circles is a book by a woman claiming to hear the very words of Jesus, we have a problem.

When the largest churches in the world are led by men who peddle false promises of prosperity and ease, we have a problem.

If that’s the case and theology, in the broader church world, has hit such hard times, why on earth would I undertake to write a series of articles every week defending the study of theology?

Because I am convinced we do not grasp what theology truly is.

When we engage in theological study:

We are not affirming the mere awareness there is a God: We aren’t just saying there is a God and that He exists. As one writer puts it, “Simply to say there is a God doesn’t say a whole lot about Him…” Most Christians are happy to acknowledge the existence of God and make a few surface level statements about Him but true theology – true thoughts about God – are deep thoughts about God.

We are not taking in mere factual information about God: We aren’t even throwing out disparate thoughts about God when we engage in theology – mere information that can be filed away as ‘good to know’.

We are not studying arcane theological matter for men in ‘ivory towers’: I will concede that there are some books published in the category of theology that makes me actually agree that sometimes theology is painted as philosophical atom-splitting about issues no-one is really thinking about. In reality, we are dealing with topics that have direct bearing on our lives and pursuit of godliness.

So I invite you to join me on a journey as we begin walking through the great doctrines of the faith. It’ll be stretching and along the way, we’ll take detours to work through areas of disagreement among Christians but it’ll be rewarding as we dig deeper into God’s Word and ultimately come a step closer to making this Scripture a reality in our lives:

Jeremiah 9:24 (HCSB)

24 But the one who boasts should boast in this,

that he understands and knows Me —

that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love,

justice, and righteousness on the earth,

for I delight in these things.

This is the Lord’s declaration.