What is Theology

What is Theology?

One definition of theology is: the study of God and the scriptures. The term “theology” comes from a Greek word theologia. The first part, theos, means: God. The second part, logia, means: utterances, sayings, or oracles. Logia comes from the root logos which means: word, discourse, account, or reasoning.  So, the literal definition of “theology” is “the reasoning of God”.

I personally prefer the way John Frame explained it as was expounded on by Aaron Armstrong in his book Devotional Doctrine:

“Theology is the application of God’s word by persons to all areas of life.” – John Frame

“The application of God’s word”: Theology is not something we add to the Bible. Theology is what we draw from the Bible.

“By persons”: Each one of us is responsible for applying the Bible to life. We are all theologians.

“To all areas of life”: Just as we are all theologians, everything is theological. There is no area of life left unaffected by what we believe about God.

 

Why is Theology Important?

First, and foremost, it is important because God tells us it is:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)

However, I also believe it is as important today as it has ever been because of the cultural and societal influences that have changed our world drastically in the past few decades. Consider this research by Barna Group:

Approximately 60% of American adults and 40% of Christian American adults agree that “the only truth one can know is whatever is right for one’s own life.”

Through twenty plus years of research, this is where Barna reports we are as a society. They have assessed these Six Tennets of the New Moral Code in America:

  1. The best way of “finding yourself” is by looking within yourself.
  2. People should not criticize someone else’s life choices
  3. To be fulfilled in life, you should pursue the things you desire most
  4. The highest goal of life is to enjoy it as much as possible
  5. People can believe whatever they want, as long as those beliefs don’t affect society
  6. Any kind of sexual expression between two consenting adults is acceptable.

David Kinnamon, President of Barna Group had this to say:

“Americans – both inside and outside the church – are pledging allegiance to the ‘morality of self-fulfillment’. The highest good, according to our society, is ‘finding yourself’ and then living by ‘what’s right for you’. There is a tremendous amount of individualism in today’s society, and that’s reflected in the church too.

Millions of Christians have grafted new-age dogma into their spiritual person. When we peel back the layers, we find that many Christians are using the way of Jesus to pursue the way of self. While we wring our hands about secularism spreading through culture, a majority of churchgoing Christians have embraced corrupt, me-centered theology. So there appears to be a dichotomy at work among practicing Christians in America. Most believe that the Bible is the source of moral norms that transcend a person’s culture and that those moral truths are absolute rather than relative to circumstances. Yet, at the same time, solid majorities ascribe to five of the six tenets of The New Moral Code.

Such widespread cognitive dissonance – among both practicing Christians and Americans more generally – is another indicator of the cultural flux Barna has identified through the past two decades. But is also represents an opportunity for leaders and mentors who are prepared to coach people – especially young people – toward deeper wisdom and greater discernment.”

  • David Kinnamon

So, I ask you this: Are you prepared? Are you that leader? Who will lead your family? Your friends? Your children? Did you notice what Kinnamon said? “…deeper wisdom and greater discernment.” In this day and age, anyone can pick up a phone and google a huge wide range of knowledge; but they want depth! They want understanding. We can have knowledge as wide as the ocean – millions of different topics we can know about – but, if our depth is that of a mud puddle, we cannot lead, and they will not follow. I like what J.I. Packer says in his book Knowing God:

“The width of our knowledge about God is no guage of the depth of our knowledge of Him.” – J.I. Packer, Knowing God

Why is theology important?

“John the Baptist didn’t die for proclaiming Jesus. He died for his theology on marriage.” – Owen Strachan, For The Church Conference 2018

It is not just the gospel that we give our lives to, but the whole word of God. Are you willing to die for your theology?

Why is theology important? Because we now live in a world where, as Matthew Barrett says, “doubt has become a virtue and certainty has become sin.” (Matthew Barrett, FTC 2018) We now live in a society in which even Christians are saying “there are no absolutes” and “the truth is relative.” Can I give a simple lesson really quick on logic? Both of those statements are logically contradictive and logically illogical. To make an absolute statement saying “there are no absolutes” contradicts and negates itself by claiming that which the claim states does not exist. To state, as a truth, that “truth is relative” makes the statement irrelevant because the statement requires it to not be truth except in appropriate circumstances.

Let me take a moment here to say that, if this is the logic of society and it is moving into the church, the only way we can combat this is to become apologists. As Peter says, “Regard Christ the Lord as Holy, ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (2 Peter 3:15 CSB) Consider Calvin’s statement:

“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” – John Calvin

Owen Strachan put it this way:

“We either go to war with Satan, or we accept his terms.” – Owen Strachan, FTC 2018

But how do we go to war if we don’t know the battle? I submit this to you: We cannot be apologists unless we are first theologists. We cannot be theologists if we don’t first know God and His word. We cannot know God and His word if we don’t study God through His word. We cannot study unless we first know how.

Where Do We Start?

So, where do we start? Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) Let’s go back to the idea of “absolute truth”. What is absolute truth? It is defined as: inflexible reality – fixed, invariable, unalterable facts. It is not an opinion and it is not open to interpretation.

Jesus said, “You will know the truth and it will set you free.” (John 8:32) He also says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) Jesus is absolute truth! Solomon said, “Every word of God proves true.” (Proverbs 30:5 ESV) The word of God is absolute truth! John said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 1:14) Jesus is the Word of God!!

When you open your Bible, you are opening God.

When you read the word of God, you are reading Jesus

When you study the Holy Scriptures, you are studying the Holy Spirit.

Why do we need to learn to study? Jason Allen said, “If you are not convinced of Scripture – it’s truthfulness, authority, relevance, and power – then you will be disinclined to preach the Word, and you will preach your own word.” (Jason Allen, Discerning Your Call to Ministry) You see, we talk about the things we are comfortable with and the things we know as people. We need to be more comfortable with and know more of the Bible than anything else in life if we intend to defend and share the faith.

So, how are we going to study and when do we start? We are going to start today by each of us committing to put aside our pre-conceived notions and humanistic failed logic and accept and proclaim that, from this day forward, we will recognize scripture as the authority and we will judge our lives by scripture and not judge scripture by out thoughts, ideas, feelings, opinions, and selfish desire. I want to stand firmly on and in agreement with God when He tells us, “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

As we learn to study the scriptures, we will look at a variety of subjects that affect how we study. We will look at the various terms for the Bible and their meanings. We will address the proper and improper attitudes towards and views of the Bible. We will explore the wonders of the formation, preservation, unique subject matter, and influence of the Bible. We will talk about ten or more points of support for the supernatural origin of the Bible. Then we will move into learning hermeneutics, covenant theology, and dispensations of the Bible. Together, we will grow a great deal in knowledge, understanding, and confidence as we learn to study to shew ourselves approved unto God by rightly dividing the word of truth.

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