Studying theology is for every believer, not just the elite.
Every Christian is a theologian. Theology is, after all, simply the study of God. It’s not just for scholars in academia, but also for retirees, teenagers, stay-at-home parents, and even the barista who makes your morning latte.
The following are some reasons I have found this practice to be fascinating, thought-provoking, and beneficial.
We have a greater understanding of the story of the Bible.
While theological conversation can sometimes devolve into pointless debate about apparent trivialities, at its best, it serves the church and helps the people of God better read Scripture. There is depth, meaning, and beauty on every page of the Bible, which theology can reveal to us.
We learn to speak and pray well.
Speaking about God, or talking to Him in prayer, is no small matter. The language we employ is important. Certainly, God can accept and use even our most inarticulate mumblings. But knowing Him better, like learning about a friend or a spouse, allows us to speak more precisely and effectively.
We understand other Christians better.
While theology has a reputation for being divisive, that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, it can show us how many core beliefs Christians actually share. Also, it allows us to learn from believers of different opinions, experiences, cultures, and even centuries.
We become more discerning.
When a story about the Bible is in the news, or when the latest controversy about Jesus once again “just happens” to get coverage around Easter, familiarity with theology can help us think through these ideas in a faithful and analytical way. Then we can better understand and defend what we believe, and at the same time honestly consider ideas that may be worth exploring.
We draw closer to God.
It is said that theology should lead to doxology, which is a fancy way of saying that learning about the Lord should compel us to worship Him. This is the most important benefit of study. Consider how God made the world; the plan He set in motion to make things right after the fall; Christ’s sacrifice on the cross; the glories of the resurrection—when we examine these things, we better understand them.
It may strike us as odd now, but in the early years of the church, merchants and customers around town would openly debate their beliefs about God. They’d even promote their particular positions by making up little slogans and songs, which could be heard in the streets. These people took for granted that theology was for everyone, and they found it to be vital to their communities and their life with God.
Today, we have easy access to more information than ever before in history, far beyond anything those early Christians could have imagined. There are endless articles, posts, and books for a curious student of God’s Word to read. Don’t assume theology is only for an elite group of academics—you could miss out on the riches right before your eyes.
by Mason Slater