Theology it’s often thought is for those in ivory towers or for those studying for ministry. Theology, the study of God is for everyone. R.C. Sproul once commented that everyone is a theologian, the question is whether you are a good one or a bad one. Theology is not for the academic, although academic theology is vital to the Church to protect her from heresy. Still as important is the average layperson engaging in the work of theology. Some Christians think, and I’ve heard them say this over a lifetime of attending church since a child that the pastor is their theologian. While they may not express it exactly that way, theology to many Christians is for the “professionals” those who have degrees.
The hard work of ministry is to equip the saints for service. That involves helping them learn how to think biblically. Each part of the Body of Christ has a role to play—from the most educated among us to the least educated. We are family, and as such we should treat one another in a manner worthy of the calling we’ve received from the Lord Jesus. Each one of us is at different places of biblical knowledge as a result of our education or our study. The person with multiple Ph.D.’s is not greater than the great-grandmother who earnestly prays and studies the Bible. Before the Cross, all stand equally guilty and in need of the glory of the gospel of the grace of God
Theology Is for You and Me
You see I have a simple but profound premise that I want you to get in this article. That premise is theology is for you and me. That’s it! Every single one of us as Christians are priests unto the Lord (1 Peter 2:9). Sure, there are some men set aside specifically to shepherd the flock of God as Pastors and elders based on character qualifications the Bible prescribes (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1). With that said, each one of us whether at a Bible study, a small group, or in some other avenue are engaging in the work of theology. Whether you realize it or not, you are engaging in theology when you are at work engaging others. Whether you know it or not, the convictions you hold to play a significant factor in how you daily treat your coworkers. The Puritans rightly emphasized that discipleship issues are ultimately doctrinal issues. That is, behind our discipleship failures or successes are theological convictions that are shaping our moral and ethical outlook on a variety of topics. Let’s use one other example to drive this home.
We Are Always Operating from Our Theological Convictions
Let’s say I have a fight with my wife. I have a choice in the heat of the moment that I needed to have already made before the fight ever occurs. If I make this decision during the heat of battle, I am likely to succumb to the heat of the moment and say words that I cannot ever take back but will apologize for later. Before the heat of a fight happens, I need to decide that I truly love my wife and that my words are going to be loving rather than attack her verbally and cut her down. In the same way my wife has to decide if she is going to love me before a fight; otherwise, we won’t work anything out at all. That is not to say that all arguments are necessarily wrong or unhelpful; it’s to say that our theological convictions are played out in the light of day—whether that’s marital difficulty, a trial, circumstance, etc. We are always engaging in theology because we are always operating from our theological convictions. This is why theology is for you and me, and also why R.C. Sproul is right that we’re either good theologians or bad theologians.
Some Practical Encouragement to Engage in Theology
Today, I want to encourage you to open your Bible, read it, and study it. It’s there that we learn about God and how all of His ways are perfect, just, holy, and good (Psalm 18:30). It’s also there that we learn the redemptive story of Jesus that runs like a scarlet thread through the whole Bible (John 5:39-40; Luke 24). I also want to encourage you to pick up trustworthy godly resources from publishers like Christian Focus, Crossway, The Good Book Company. Also, consider checking out solid articles published on Crossway, 9Marks, Desiring God, and more (this is not an endorsement of everything published by those publishers or websites either just saying that they do publish solid material!). There you can learn not only what the Bible says but how to engage in good theology with discernment.
Theology is the study of God. Rather than thinking theology is for the academic or the seminary theologian, theology is for you and me. We engage in theology when we pray and when we talk with others. We are operating from our theological convictions with how we respond to trials and difficulty. What we believe shapes us. As Christians, we are not to be formed primarily by our experiences but supremely by the Word of God. The Word of God gives shape and definition to the Christian life since it is the inspired, inerrant, sufficient, and authoritative Word of God. All that means is you, and I have a sure and steady Word to anchor us in the midst of the chaos of our lives. I don’t know about you, but that’s genuinely encouraging since our Lord has given us a sure anchor in the midst of the storms of life, a lifeline to steady us in the unsettled waters of our lives.
Theology is for you and me. It’s there to help ground our lives in the stable soil of God’s Word and helps us to guide and navigate our lives. The next time you hear theology is not for you, please kindly and lovingly state that theology is for you. Theology helps ground you in the sure foundation of the Word of God so we can steady our gaze on the Lord and His promises in the stuff of daily life.
Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021) and The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.