There is a sense within the church today that theology is not necessary. Some claim that theology will only lead someone to lose their faith, become self-righteous, and many are against it because they do not understand what it is. These reasons for not studying theology look more like excuses than reasons. Yes, some become haughty and arrogant in their theological studies. Some have lost their faith while studying. This can happen within life in general. Many do not understand life, yet they live out life the best they can. Many have become arrogant and haughty because they think they have become something. Many have lost their faith because of things that happen in life, yet no one says that life is to be disregarded. No, they say to live on and roll with the punches. This, then, leads to why is there such an aversion to studying theology?
Many would say that the previous three reasons, arrogance, loss of faith, and not understanding, would answer this question. To some it does and to others, like the ones who still live life even though they face the same three problems associated with theology, those reasons are not enough. Again, why study theology? Why nurture theological literacy? One should because it is a worthy study. Just as life is worthy of living even with all the difficulties associated with it.
Tim Keller said in a short video, The Importance of Theology, that theology and doctrine are crucial that digging down deep and understanding theology will guide how one does church (:51-1:10). Adding to this Kevin Vanhoozer wrote, “I argue that theology best serves the church by seeking and then demonstrating its understanding of what God has said and done in Jesus Christ” (Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine Kindle Location 209). This statement of Vanhoozer’s demonstrates why the concerns of theology are not enough to stop the study of theology. It is not some high-up academic-only study. It is something all believers, and unbelievers all do. This is so because, “theology”, as Beth Jones said, “brings the Greek term logos–translated “word,” “speech,” or “reason”–together with the term theos, the word for God” (Practicing Christian Doctrine: An Introduction to Thinking and Living Theologically 11). Simply, theology is trying to reasonably understand and talk about God.
Since theology is the reasoning of and about God, then what Vanhoozer said is very fitting. If the church is to reasonably go forth and act how God desires them to act, they need theology to guide them. Correct theology stops heresy and any other deviant variation of Christianity. Wayne Grudem has written that studying theology will aid in overcoming wrong ideas and help to make “better decisions” on doctrine when those questions arise (Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith 23). It seems that if one does not study theology, they are more likely to lose their faith than not.
The main reason for studying theology is not just to become intellectually able to defend, and therefore maybe become arrogant. As good as it is for the church to be able to defend the faith well, that is not the ultimate end and need for theology. The ultimate reason for theological literacy is theology tells who God is and what God desires of His church. Not only does theology do that but it grows the believer into a mature believer. The study of theology does an amazing transforming work on the believer. It does so by drawing their thoughts to the truth of God which makes them live a transformed life (Jones 12).
In summation, theology is necessary for one to grow to maturity and know God. One can be a Christian without ever studying theology. Although, this is true, for one to grow as a believer and live a fully transformed life; theology is a must. Theological literacy is a must in the church if the church desires to grow and be the church God desires. Theology is a truly transforming study that all believers should seek to do and do well.