The statement that everyone is a theologian may seem strange to some. After all, theologians are most often associated with those either in the academic community or a pursuit that is the domain of those who occupy the pulpit. It is unfortunate that some believe the study of God is not for them despite the fact that all believers are called to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). It is thus the responsibility of every believer to read, meditate, and apply the truth of Scripture in every area of their life. While the study of theology may seem dull and boring, in reality it is the wellspring of life, the source of truth for all matters of life because it is God’s instruction book to His people on how they are to love Him and love others. Dr. R. C. Sproul, in his book Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology, dispels the idea that theology is not for everyone by providing the reader what amounts to an everyman’s theology text, something people at all levels of maturity in the faith can read and appreciate.
Dr. Sproul divides this helpful book into eight sections with each section engaging a specific element of theology. The overarching theological topics he covers include Theology Proper, Anthropology and Creation, Christology, Pneumatology, Soteriology, Ecclesiology, and Eschatology. Each of these sections contains further subsections where specific elements of each theological subject matter are discussed in greater detail. Dr. Sproul also includes an appendix containing three of the church’s creeds that have for many years served to encapsulate these overarching theological truths.
One thing Dr. Sproul is known for is his gift of teaching deep theological subjects in a way the hearer (or in this case the reader) can easily understand. That gift shows itself throughout this book. Sproul first provides the reader with a helpful background on what theology is all about, noting that theology contains three separate yet interrelated disciplines: biblical theology, historical theology, and systematic theology. While not every believer may become an expert in all three or for that matter any one particular theological discipline, Sproul rightly notes “theology is unavoidable for every Christian. It is our attempt to understand the truth that God has revealed to us – something every Christian does.” Thus, given the reality that every Christian does theology, Sproul avers “it is a question of whether our theology is sound or unsound.” It is Sproul’s effort to provide believers, whether new or seasoned, with a helpful overview of sound theology.
I found the approach by Sproul on the theological topics he engaged in this book to be theologically sound. While there were small elements with which I might have had a minor quibble, mainly on very specific elements of his approach to some non salvation related topics, Sproul provides the reader with very sound theology and some very valuable insight into matters of theology proper, the doctrine of man and creation, Christology, the Holy Spirit, sin, the Church, and last things. Sproul by no means covers every single detail on these points of theology but that was not his purpose. His purpose again is to provide the reader with a primer on theology with the express purpose of demonstrating that theology is something for all Christians to be actively engaged in studying.
The portion of this book I appreciated the most was Sproul’s discussion of God, otherwise known as theology proper. Having an understanding of who God is, His character, and why it matters is of the utmost importance. Since God is perfectly holy, all of His actions are perfect. Nothing within His characters is self-contradictory. Sproul rightly notes “only as we understand the character of God can we understand every other doctrine properly.” Far too many Christians try to jump into the study of sin, the Church, or even eschatology without first understanding who God is and how He operates. Thus the foundation for a properly approach to theology must always begin with a study of God. By beginning his study of theology with a study of God, Sproul builds a solid framework by which the other matters of theology he discusses can be built.
For anyone desiring a place to start studying theology, I highly recommend this book. Dr. Sproul is always scholarly yet has the ability to break down difficult scholarly points into manageably understood concepts. Thus this book is very accessible to all believers. As an introduction to systematic theology and some very important and fundamental matters of theology as a whole, namely issues highly relevant for all believers, this book is a homerun. It will be a tool I will refer to for many years to come and it will make a nice addition to the other more voluminous systematic theology texts in my personal library.
This book is available for purchase from Reformation Trust Publishing by clicking here.