Submitted by Andy McIlvain.
Does theology matter? Can you be a Christian without it?
Theology (Greek logos, or “word,” with theos or “God”) is words or knowledge concerning God. Scripture is the God-given foundation and only infallible source for all true theology. All Scripture is “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16) and is “the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him” (Westminster Shorter Catechism 2).
Theology matters because what we think and say determines how we love and how we act and how we live. This includes every aspect of our lives: thinking (head), feeling (heart), and doing (hands). Theology describes the way you think not only about God, but about life’s ultimate questions: the meaning of life? Why am I here? What do I really believe in? What do I hope for? What are my values? Who and what am I?
Most professing Christians have little to no interest in theology. Many Christians believe there is no connection between theology and their everyday Christian life. For many people God seems to have died or is so boring and irrelevant that they don’t bother to think or consider him a part of life.
In our time of immediate gratification, the fragmentation of our time and loss of concentration has become the new normal. Theologian Miroslav Volf says, “The danger is that students become experts in means but remain amateurs in ends, immensely adept in accomplishing discrete tasks, but lost when it comes to the art of living.”
The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Knowledge of God is what separates believers and unbelievers. Scripture describes unbelievers as those who do not “know God,” those who lack “knowledge of God” (Hosea 4:1; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Titus 1:16). Christians then are those who know God and who are to be growing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10).
The ultimate reality is that our Triune God rules over all things. Everything we feel, say, and do is dominated by that truth. Church members need to know good theology because church members have the responsibility to share the gospel with those around them.
Good theology allows us through the Holy Spirit to tell people about our Savior in a proper way and helps us to disciple one another. We all change by beholding the glory of God (2 Corinthians 3:18). Theology helps us toward that end as we pursue our responsibility to help one another grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We understand our Bible’s better, and we see our lives transformed. This life transformation spreads from person to person, member to member so that the whole body grows and humanity flourishes.