Why in the world should I care about theology?
All I need is the Bible.
I can follow Jesus without having to learn all kinds of obscure words.
Have you ever heard another Christian say something like these statements? Have you ever said something like them yourself? Ever thought such things? If so, you’re not alone. The vast majority of professing Christians have little to no interest in theology. In the minds of many Christians, there is no necessary connection between theology and their everyday Christian life. Theology, they believe, is irrelevant.
The disconnect between theology and the church and between theology and the Christian has had disastrous results. One need only look at recent polls examining the level of theological knowledge among professing Christians to know that something has gone awry. When large numbers of professing Christians start telling their friends and family, “You just have to read The Shack! I learned so much about God from that book,” well then, Houston, we have a problem. When large numbers of professing evangelical Christians are not sure whether the deity of Christ is an article of the Christian faith, then we have more than a problem. We are the proverbial lemmings, rushing headlong toward the precipice.
In order for Christians to begin to understand why theology is necessary and relevant, we must understand what we mean by theology. Reformed theologians of the past defined theology as a “word about God” based on the “word of God.” In short, theology at its most basic is knowledge of God.
Knowledge of God is a dividing line between believers and unbelievers. Scripture characterizes unbelievers as those who do not “know God,” those who lack “knowledge of God” (Hos. 4:1; 1 Cor. 1:21; Gal. 4:8; 1 Thess. 4:5; 2 Thess. 1:8; Titus 1:16). In contrast are Christians, those who know God and who are to be growing in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10). To be growing in the knowledge of God is to be growing in our theology.
All Christians are called to theology in this most basic sense. If Scripture calls us to grow in the knowledge of God/theology, then the pursuit of this knowledge, of theology, is an act of Christian obedience. It becomes an aspect of Christian discipleship, a non-negotiable for the believer.
When we begin to think about theology first and foremost as knowledge of God, we can begin to glimpse the truth about the relevance of theology. We can begin to see that it makes all the difference in the world to our lives. We can begin to see how it is relevant to everything we think, say, and do as followers of Jesus Christ.