Theology is a necessity in the Christian life. Christians are to study their God. This is what theology is, studying the Lord of Glory. God is to be studied through the revelation that he has provided. God has revealed himself in creation, providence, and his holy word. Scripture is the primary source for knowing God. The Bible is God's word to man, it is his revelation of himself and his mighty works.
Creation tells us much about God, but it does not have the clarity of the scriptures, nor the scope. Creation does not reveal all of God, our sinfulness, or the gospel. Natural revelation, or creation, is important, however. It often serves as a commentary to the truths of Scripture. It does in some sense reveal God (Ps. 19:1-6; Rom. 1:18-20).
Theology, then is the study of Scripture in order to know and learn about God and to be edified in the Christian faith. Said another way, theology is Scripture applied. It is applied to every area of life. After all, believers do live in this world, have problems, face difficulties, are tempted, have questions, and need guidance. Scripture, among other things, reveals God to the believer, assures them, fills them with hope, makes known the various promises of God, and tells of the Savior who lived and died for sinners.
This means that theology is for the people. It is for every believer. The sheep need to know the Bible and the God of the Bible. Theology is not just for pastors and academics. Theology is to be preached and taught. It is to be learned, studied, known, and applied by all Christians.
Necessity of Theology
So, why is theology necessary? First, theology provides clarity and unity to the entire body of biblical material. Theology summarizes or compartmentalizes vast amount of biblical data. This makes it easier to learn, digest, know, teach, preach, and apply.
Second, theology responds to the changing challenges of Christianity in a fallen world and culture. Theology is needed because the Bible simply does not address every issue that believers face in our differing cultures. Examples include: abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, etc. Theology takes what is written in Scripture and applies it to the many areas and concerns that plague us.
Third, theology is part of the discipleship of believers and a witness of the truth to a lost world. Theology teaches Christians what the Bible says in order for them to grow in the grace and knowledge of the truth. It formulates what is believed and stands as a witness of God's truth against a lost and dying world.
Fourth, theology maintains the integrity of the faith and repels attacks from inside and outside the church. Theology documents what is believed and held uniformly over against the different ideas and doctrines of others who call themselves “Christians” but believe contrary teachings. It is also an arsenal to be utilized when assaulted by untruth, sinful culture, or other enemies of God and the gospel.
Fifth, theology tells the narrative of God, how man fits into that narrative, and how to live within God's narrative appropriately. The church was given the privilege of communicating the message of God, the Fall of man, God's redemption, and man's responsibility to respond to the gospel. Having this responsibility, the church must be faithful in teaching and proclaiming God's message, but also living out the truth and showing that it does make a difference in every area of life.
Goals of Theology
The goals of theology are many. People study theology in order to know God better, increase their love for and intimacy with God, deepen their relationship with God by heightening knowledge of his person and work, and to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. Also, theology is studied to build up the body of Christ, unify the faith and knowledge of Christ, encourage spiritual maturity and Christlikeness, and stimulates discernment and faithfulness. Finally, theology is studied to evoke truthful and loving speech, kindle growth of the entire person, and to conjure progress in development and love.
Theology is important. It cannot be avoided. If you are a Christian and read or hear the word of God, you are a theologian. Hopefully, you are a good one. Upon reading the Bible, you learn doctrine and summarize the information that has been learned. This summarizing is theology. This learning of doctrine is theology. When you read the word of God, you are learning about God. This, again, is theology. You are a theologian. Please strive to be a responsible, biblical, and Christlike theologian.