The word theology comes from two Greek words, theos (meaning God) and logia (meaning that which is said). So the word theology essentially means “That which is said about God” or “The study of God.” You could also say it means “A word about God,” I suppose. The ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle wrote about theologia as being a “discourse about God,” often including metaphysical matters as well. In Europe, during the High Middle Ages, theology was known as the “queen of the sciences” by medieval universities. So the study of theology is pretty important. I will be attempting to start a new series on the subject of theology in its various forms e.g. Christology, ecclesiology, angelology and demonology, soteriology, eschatology etc. I’ll also try to touch upon certain developments, nothing too deep because I’m assuming the laity will read this more than any scholar will.
Now the question is why should you study theology? “Why study theology when you can just read the Bible?” This is a statement that I have heard over the years that causes my eyebrow to arch, another saying is “I don’t know theology, but I know kneeology.” These trite sayings are indicative of the lack of understanding that is to be found among most of the laity in the Church these days. These people honestly think that all one needs to do is open your Bible and read it and you will magically come away with the true sense of the Scriptures. Now I will admit, there are parts that are pretty straight forward, and one would assume any reasonably intelligent person will at least get the gist of what is being said. The common person will no doubt be able to understand enough of what the Scriptures teach to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved (hopefully). There are, however, enormous benefits to be gained from the study of theology that one might not obtain just from reading the Bible alone.
1. Theology helps broaden our horizons.
By systematically delving into the deep wellspring of the Scriptures, one often comes across passages that are somewhat difficult to understand on our own, usually because we lack a cultural or historical understanding of something in the passage. This is when it is helpful to see what others have thought concerning this passage or area of thought. This does not mean that you must adopt the view of that person; rather it simply gives you food for thought. He or she may have noticed something that you did not notice. Aristotle once said “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
2. Studying theology will challenge your own thought or help to confirm something that you already believed.
I have found that this is one of the most beneficial reasons to study theology. I have made it a point to read not only those with whom I agree but also those with whom I disagree. I do this in order to get a balanced look at the issue I’m studying in order to make sure I’m not just getting one side of the story. Sometimes my view changes due to the superior argument by the other side. Let me give you an example: I used to be a dispensational premillennialist who believed in the pre-tribulation rapture, but after studying the New Testament and reading other arguments, I have abandoned that way of thinking. I now lean heavily towards amillennialism.
Sometimes one will read something that will help confirm something that you already believed. I cannot tell you the joy I have whenever I come across an author who lived centuries before I was born who is teaching the same thing that I am. That is so totally cool! I didn’t get my belief from him/her, but we both came to the same conclusion about this topic! I usually take this as a little bit of encouragement that I’m on the right track.
3. Studying theology will help your way of thinking become more logical which is always good.
During 2012, I had to take three algebra courses at the school I currently attend. I hate math, and algebra is extra sadistic (I guess it’s a good thing I have masochistic tendencies). I worked hard, applied myself, and went to a little tutoring for extra help and I passed them all with good grades. I may never have to use the stuff again but there is one thing that I will take away from it that will stay with me forever: it helped me think logically. I’ve always been a logical person, and my brain has always gravitated towards intellectual pursuits (I am a Gemini, after all), so this really just helped me hone those skills.
The same is true for the study of theology. By studying theology we can better organize our thoughts, and make sure that we aren’t being illogical in our beliefs. I firmly believe that the Creator is a deity of logic and of order, and so there is logic to him that we can perceive and appreciate. I always strive to be logical in whatever I do, because those pesky emotions can cloud our judgment, keeping us from making the right decisions in life. Studying theology is just another way in which we can better hone our logical abilities and help us make sense out of the things we read in the Scriptures or encounter in our lives. I’d also recommend a healthy dose of philosophy as well.
So in conclusion, studying theology is good. It’s not just for the pastor, priest, or elders of the Church. Theology is good for the laity as well. It’s good for girls and women too (I think it’s so incredibly attractive to talk to a girl who can actually comprehend what I’m prattling on about). We seriously need more female theologians out there. Never let a man tell you that you cannot study theology, he’s just being an insecure douchebag. So for all you up and coming “armchair theologians” out there, go out and find something that interests you and read about it!