Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. – Romans 11:33-36
I’m a professed theology nerd who is confronted daily with the belief that the more I learn, the less I feel I know. Most days, alongside my coffee mug and laptop, you will find an array of systematic theologies accompanied by Dr. Gregg Allison’s Historical Theology. In addition, I enjoy reading books by old theologians and seminary professors where I learn about church history, doctrine, as well as important philosophical and theological explorations from men like Aquinas and Augustine. To better understand, you will want to read my story.
It was at the age of 56 I sat in a classroom for advanced theology track in Ft. Worth, Texas. With much younger men and women (pastors and would-be counselors) to my right and to my left, I gripped my pen and fixed my mind on every word coming from the front of the room. Despite decades of Bible study and faithful church attendance it wasn’t until learning these ancient truths, theological gaps emerged. But there was something in those particular moments that I was sure of, maybe even convicted of: I needed to carry learning further. And, by the grace of God, I did just that through Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I had known Jesus since childhood, but it wasn’t until poring over these doctrines I began to know and understand with clarity what Christianity is. In this season of formal education, I gained an understanding of how theological views affect all aspects of life. It was a busy time but it was the best of times and with the filling of those theological gaps, my life’s focus changed. God’s purposes in me and with me became clear.
You will find me recalling these age old truths as I mentor, counsel, and teach women to think theologically so they might better study the Bible. It’s through the sufficiency of Scripture that we are able to best learn how to work through the challenges of daily living. Truth is that all of us live our theology as we engage with Christian faith and life. The more we know about what God has revealed, the more we want to live for his glory above our own.
Why We need theology
As Christians we come to the Bible primarily to learn about God and in the process, we learn about ourselves and our world. Since our source of knowledge about God is from his word, the Bible, systematic theology is about how the parts of God’s word and his truth relate to the whole message of the Bible. Properly understanding how great and unsearchable God is and the wonders of what He has done humbles us, exalts Him, and should lead to greater worship. With the wisdom of the ages, nearly 2000 years of church history has culminated in sound theology based on Scripture. In the study of Christian theology, those who call themselves Christian can know what they believe and why they believe.
Every time we think or speak about God, His will, or His works, we are doing theology. All of Scripture is for us and it is God’s word that does the work of maintaining a foundation of truth worthy of passing on. The study of theology helps us understand Scripture and to think and speak truly about what God has revealed in the Bible. If we are to leave a legacy of Christian faith, it is crucial we gain, retain, and share theological truths for the benefit of those individuals we know and love.
Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.
– Thomas Aquinas