What is Theology?

Dry academia? A mere seminary discipline? A practice for the intellectual elite?

Theology does not have to be like this! Theology is the study or the doctrine of God. In its truest form, it’s a way for us to get to know our God better. R.C. Sproul helps us out:

The word theology shares a suffix, -ology, with the names of many disciplines and sciences, such as biology, physiology, and anthropology. The suffix comes from the Greek word logos, which we find in the opening of John’s gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The Greek word logos means “word” or “idea,” or, as one philosopher translated it, “logic” (it is also the term from which we get the English word logic). So when we study biology, we are looking at the word or logic of life. Anthropology is the word or logic about humans, anthrōpos being the Greek word for man. The primary part of the word theology comes from the Greek theos, which means “god,” so theology is the word or logic of God Himself. (1)

Sadly, this term is misunderstood as being the cause of division in our churches. “Why can’t we just love Jesus and love people and be done with the theological debates?” On this topic alone we see the need for us to pursue theology, that is, to understand God Himself. Who is Jesus (fully man, fully God, lesser god, great prophet, teacher)? What happened at the cross? Why did He need to come to earth to begin with? Did He really rise from the dead–and does it matter if he did or didn’t?

You see, all of these questions need answering–and this is just about Jesus! The joy of getting to know not just about God but to know God is an incredible endeavor. We get to know Him in the inspired Word that the Holy Spirit preserved for us. He has given us His church that Christ Himself built in order to hear the Word, to fellowship with fellow believers, and to be sent to our respective mission fields.

What does this have to do with our day-to-day life? J.I. Packer in his book Knowing God says this:

How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each Truth that we learn about God into a matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God (2).

Theology leads to doxology–that is, a right thinking about God leads to a right praise before God. Theology fueled from the Scriptures must lead to not only praise, but right living and practice (that is, orthodoxy leading to orthopraxy).

Satan has won a great victory by putting the notion in the minds of many sitting in our churches that theology is a class in seminary or simply for the spiritual and intellectual elite. As the book from which the original quote was taken tells us, “Everyone’s a Theologian.”

Yes, that includes you! Let’s get to know our God better through Jesus!

(1) R.C Sproul, Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology, 4.

(2) J.I. Packer, Knowing God.


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