Many people, perhaps even yourself, have asked this question before. Why do I need to study theology? The answer is quite simple: Because you already are.
So, what is theology? Theology is comprised of two Greek words Theo meaning god, and logy which means the study of. Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is. By breaking down the word into its foundational parts, we realize that theology is just the study of God. Any time we think about God, we are engaging in theology. Whenever we pray, we are engaging in theology. Whenever we read a daily devotion, we are engaging in theology. Theology is an essential part of the Christian faith. It is a necessity to a flourishing and thriving walk with the Lord. Without a solid and proper understanding of who He is then you cannot know Him. Theology just means that we are studying God. It doesn’t have to be scary or difficult, but it must be right.
Whether you realize it or not, by simply thinking about God, and who He is, you have already engaged in theology. The question is are you engaging in proper theology? The answer to this second question is one that we have all too often failed to ask ourselves in an age where our access to vast amounts of information is resting in our pockets. Are we engaging in right theology? We may think so, but sadly the answer isn’t what we would expect.
In 2018, Ligonier Ministries commissioned a survey to answer this question about the overall state of the theology of believers. And the answers were shocking to say the least. The survey found that 52% of Christians believed that people are good by nature. It also found that 51% agreed that God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. But the most shocking one of all was that 78% of Christians believe that Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God. 78% of people believe that Jesus Christ was created. That should be a wake-up call to the Church that maybe we are not as theologically minded as we like to think that we are.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I love shooting sports. It has been a hobby of mine since I first took up a Red Ryder on my grandmas’ porch as a little kid. It was there that I learned the fundamentals of marksmanship: proper sight alignment, trigger press, breathing, and everything else that would allow me to shoot straight and hit my target. I remember my dad hammering the fundamentals into my head as a kid, and as a result, I’m not too bad of a shot. The days spent on the porch have since past, but the fundamentals are still there. Anytime I go to the range, I remember the fundamentals. Those fundamentals learned over 25 years ago, have allowed me to advance in my skills and abilities.
Now, I bet you’re wondering why I suddenly decided to talk about shooting during a theology piece. That’s because it shows the need for a solid foundation. You see, when I first learned the fundamentals, as basic as they were, it allowed me to grow in my ability on the range and made me a proficient marksman on a wide variety of firearm platforms. By contrast, if my dad had just handed me the Red Ryder and told me to hit the pop can without any training, I would have developed bad habits. Sure, I may have hit the target a few times, but I would have missed the mark more often than not.
As stated above, when we think about God we are engaging in theology. The difference is that often we do not have a solid foundation to build from, and we end up missing the mark entirely. This is evident by the fact that so many Christians think that Jesus was a created being. Not only does this show a bad understanding of the Trinity but a fundamental flaw in the understanding of the nature of God. So, the question is whether or not we want to engage in theology. The question is do we want to have the tools necessary to develop right theology?
Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1
Here we see the command to test the spirits and to make sure that they are from the Lord. Without right theology, we cannot do that. Without the foundations to build our theology on the Word of God we will be swayed by everything that sounds good. Sure, that Facebook post may sound good, it may even encourage you, but that doesn’t mean that it is biblical. And that is what we should be striving for when we engage in theology. We should not want something that will help us grow in ourselves, but we should long for that which will help us grow in the Lord.
So how do we study right theology? There is no other answer than healthy Bible study and
prayer habits. That Facebook post that Aunt Sharon shared, hold it up to Scripture. If it doesn’t feel right, let Scripture win. Unsure if your understanding is correct? Pray. With diligent reading and prayer balancing your diet, the Lord will guide you into a right understanding of Him.
The bottom line is this: We are going to engage in theology whether we want to or not. We are going to engage in the theological discussion whether we mean to or not. It is damaging to think otherwise. And in order to be able to test the spirits to see whether or not they are from God, we must know theology. Not only should we know theology, but we should know biblical theology. We are going to have to build our house on something. We can either build it on the shifting sands of the culture, filled with subjective truths and whole lies, or we can build on the ever-constant, firm foundation of the Word of God. It is your choice. And if we don’t make a decision soon, one will be made for us.
 The Moody Handbook of Theology