Why Should Christians Study Theology?

Updated on March 5, 2019
BlossomSB profile image

As a retired Christian missionary teacher Bronwen has loved the opportunities she had to study theology and here shares some reasons why.

Keltic Cross
Keltic Cross | Source

Jesus is our Model

We, who call ourselves Christians, try to live our lives by following Jesus and modelling our lives, as much as we can, on His teaching about the Kingdom of God and on the way He lived His life here on Earth.

At Christmas time we celebrate His birth in Bethlehem. When Mary was pregnant, Jesus' parents had been required to go there for the census, and He was born there. When some wise men visited Herod saying they wanted to see the baby King, he was shocked that his power might be usurped and ordered all male babies to be killed. Jesus' parents had to flee as refugees into Egypt to protect Him until Herod died. Then it was safe to return to Nazareth.

Very little is recorded about Jesus' boyhood until, in accordance with Jewish practice, He became 'a man' at the age of twelve. At that time it was the celebration of the Passover, so, with His parents and probably His brothers and sisters, He travelled by foot to the Temple in Jerusalem.

When the celebrations were over Jesus remained behind in the Temple, listening and questioning the famous men and teachers of the day, and

"all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers" (Luke 2.47).

On the way home, His parents could not find Him in the crowd. Distraught, they turned back and, when they finally located Him, His mother asked why He had not followed them. He replied with a counter-question:

"Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2.49)

With this apparently simple question, Jesus, by His example, even at that tender age, directs us to the great importance of our studying and questioning to gain a deeper understanding of the Father whom we, too, profess to love and follow.

Choose Your Preferred Translation
Choose Your Preferred Translation | Source

An Act of Obedience

Theological study is an act of obedience to the Christian's high calling, to

"love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Matt.22.37).

The boy Jesus was obedient to His calling and we, as Christians, should follow this pattern He has set us, and through the discipline of studying theology come to a closer fellowship with God, learning to love Him in every way we can, including with our mind.

Theology has been described as a kind of science that is an orderly study of the way that God reveals himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It covers themes that include humankind, the world He created, our salvation and the doctrines of the final things, such as death, the judgment and the future.

Old Testament theology shows us that history progressively unfolds as it reveals that we are being directed towards a goal, and that goal is the Kingdom of God. This reaches its climax in the New Testament with the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

So the study of theology is an act of obedience to the Christian's high calling. In undertaking personal participation in what is a linear process our own lives develop as a progressive unfolding of God's purposes in history - and in our present day.

To this end, the Christian devotes himself to love God, not only with all his heart, soul and strength, but also with his mind. As Christians, we should not aim to be mindless, unthinking Christians, but to consecrate ourselves and to concentrate on learning to understand our Heavenly Father and to follow His ways. He calls us to love Him with our mind, to deepen our intellect through the study of the different branches of Biblical theology. If we are to be active and efficient in both apologetic (defending in speech and/or writing) and polemic (our response to controversial argument), we need to train our minds to be orderly and vigilant.

A Hebrew menorah. The candles are lit at the festival of Hanukkah.
A Hebrew menorah. The candles are lit at the festival of Hanukkah. | Source

An Enriching Experience

Theological study should be an enriching experience but Christians may find they are faced with an almost bewildering array of opportunities to draw upon the insights of many other people in the Bible and in our present day.

The Bible must always remain the Bible student's most important reference. The Old Testament records the way God revealed himself to Israel; in a progression of ways He prepares His people to cope with these revelations and gradually leads them to understand their spiritual side and to learn the importance of raising their goals and moral standards.

As Christians, we can learn much from enquiry into the Old Testament prophetic theology of history, for example, such as the eighth century B.C. Hebrew prophets, Amos and Isaiah.

Our lives may be immeasurably enriched by the insights we gain from learning about the patriarchs of the Old Testament and the saints of the New Testament. To these may be added the host of saints, theologians and philosophers who have arisen through the centuries since the times recorded in the Bible. Careful consideration of these insights will lead to a deepening and enhancing of personal experience and a greater understanding of the character of God and of His purposes for humankind, the Church, and Christians who are members of that body, known as the Body of Christ.

Our advances in our knowledge of God come down to us through the ages from relatively more recent outstanding individuals who have led the way by telling of their experiences and encouraging further recording of experiences in their followers; we are enriched by the encounters with God of our fellow Christians.

Through meditation and deliberation the theological student will find for himself the opportunity of many enriching experiences if he heeds the cry, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Luke 8.8). The student's consecrated intellect will lead him to draw upon the insights of a host of other people. An example in the Old Testament is the ceremony of the consecration of the priests in Leviticus, where "Moses put the blood on the tip of their right ear" (Leviticus 8.24). The priests were anointed to remind them to be ready to listen to the voice of God.

Likewise, we Christians can, in theological study, open our ears to hear the voice of God speaking to us through the saints down through the ages. Confrontation demands attention and results in personal enrichment experiences.

St. Mary the Virgin Church, Sunbury, Victoria, Australia.
St. Mary the Virgin Church, Sunbury, Victoria, Australia. | Source

Foundation for Leadership

By diligently studying the attributes and character of God we learn more about His relationship with humankind. We who share our faith, lead or preach, will attain deeper personal understanding of the essential message of the gospel and so be enabled to speak with conviction and authority on the things of God.

Through personal experience and application we can share with others. What we have learned provides a foundation for leadership. In areas of personal evangelism, pastoral work and preaching we can show the relevance of the Word to the needs and problems of life in the world today. In fact, we may find that pastoral theology covers all theology.

Criticisms are frequently levelled at theologians and students of theology, especially by people within the church who claim that theology is a purely academic pursuit. But, if we think further about it, we find that the study of theology is not a waste of time, as some might suggest, nor is it it divorced from the real life of the people of the Church.

Studying theology helps to fill our minds with the things of God, but we do need to consider how to use the knowledge so gained. By studying God we come closer to Him. Enthusiasm without knowledge is blatantly insufficient; we Christians must know deeply and personally what we are sharing and living. In times of stress, particularly, we must have studied adequately, so that the Word has taken deep roots in our lives.

Through our personal experience, we will be enabled to speak and preach with conviction and authority the message we have studied; such application makes it relevant to our own and others' needs. That is the true foundation for leadership.

Lead-light window by Rolf de la Motte.
Lead-light window by Rolf de la Motte. | Source

Sharing God's Love

God reveals Himself to us with the aim of our union with Him; this will help to fulfil His purpose for all humankind. He loves us, we are to love Him and to share that love with our neighbour.

Through the study of theology we can learn to discipline our lives in obedience to God's will for us, we can learn more about the nature and attributes of God, and in so doing be led to love Him more deeply and effectively with heart, soul, strength and mind. By meditating upon God's personal revelation to us through His Word, and through the interpretation and understanding of the Word afforded through the insights of others down the ages, we can offer a more effective response to Christ's command to go out and share that love with neighbour and with nation.

Carrying the Cross through the town on Good Friday (England).
Carrying the Cross through the town on Good Friday (England). | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Bronwen Scott-Branagan

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      • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

        6 months ago from Victoria, Australia

        North Wind: That is so true! And it's no good if we just love Him and He loves us but we do nothing about sharing that love. The more we learn about our Heavenly Father the more we should show it in the way that we serve Him by loving and serving our neighbours.

      • North Wind profile image

        North Wind 

        6 months ago from The World (for now)

        "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

        It is good to study the Bible because in so doing, we are showing interest in all God has done. Knowing what He has done in detail, enables us to praise Him and give Him the glory and honour He deserves.It also helps us to know Him better and love the way He loves.

      • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

        6 months ago from Victoria, Australia

        Bill Holland: Yes! 'Interesting and helpful'! And doesn't what we have learned so many years ago still stick in our minds and influence our thoughts and actions even right up until the present time!

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        6 months ago from Olympia, WA

        I went to a Catholic university, so we had no choice but to take Theology classes. LOL Truthfully, they were interesting and helpful.

      • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

        8 months ago from Victoria, Australia

        Rochelle Ann De Zoysa: Yes, it's such an important part of our lives as Christians. God bless you, I know how you feel about not remembering what you would like to remember of the Word, I often remember the words, but not the reference. When some of our children were small we joined Navigators and had verses to learn; they were much better than I was at remembering the Book, Chapter and Verse! And those spiritual battles! They seem to follow us for so long and, just as we think we have won, the battle begins again.

      • rdsparrowriter profile image

        Rochelle Ann De Zoysa 

        8 months ago from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

        I love to learn the Word of God as deeply as possible, although I have never been good at remembering even half of what I have studied. I believe that the Holy Spirit reminds me when it is necessary for me :) Learning the Word of God deeply, meditating on His Word, we not only get closer to Him, but through His Word, using His Word, we are able to fight spiritual battles with prayer and encourage our soul to face the day :) God bless you!

      • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

        8 months ago from Victoria, Australia

        Kevin Pedersen: Thank you for your lovely comment. Yes! God gave us our brains - and it's up to us to use them. If we're not learning and growing closer to Him, we may as well be dead!

        Tamarajo: It's good to be an encourager, thank you! We can so easily be led away from the pathway on our journey of life by all the events along the way that we need to be continually reminded to keep our feet going in the right direction. Our studying the Word helps us to do that.

        FlourishAnyway: You're thinking about it anyway and that is the first big step towards the Kingdom. May He bless you as you seek.

        Readmikenow: Yes! The more we study the Bible the more we realise that there is always so much more to learn about our wonderful Creator God and so grow closer to Him. Then our commitment deepens as we extend our studies into action and serve to the best of our ability.

      • Readmikenow profile image

        Readmikenow 

        8 months ago

        A Christian who studies theology has made an even deeper commitment to being a Christian. I was shocked to find out the new testament was originally written in Koine Greek. When you learn about the world Jesus grew up and and the history, it really puts the scriptures into perspective. Not only is it important, the theology behind the Bible are fascinating.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        8 months ago from USA

        I’m not Christian but I agree with your reasoning.

      • Tamarajo profile image

        Tamarajo 

        8 months ago

        This is a much needed encouragement Bronwen. You presented very good reasons to study theology. All of which I have found to be true.

        I used to view studying theology as something only pastors did but it should not be limited to clergy only. You present a great case that it really is for all Christians who want strengthen and deepen their understanding of God. I hope it encourages many others to do so.

        Sincerely

        Tamarajo

      • profile image

        Kevin Pedersen 

        8 months ago

        Thank you Bronwen, for your lived demonstration of the principles described in your article and for the encouragement to love God with all our Minds!

        Bless you,

        Kev

      • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

        8 months ago from Victoria, Australia

        James A. Watkins: Thank you for your comments. It truly is a life-time commitment; blessings to you as you travel.

        G. Diane Nelson Trotter: 'And give Him the glory, Great things He hath done!' - and still continues to do in our lives when we follow Him.

        Dora Weithers: How lovely to hear from you. Our belief is not a blind following but a deep, understanding, active faith. God bless you.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        8 months ago from The Caribbean

        Blossom, I give a loud Amen to this call for Christians to be alert and studious. We need to understand the principles by which we are called to live. Without that understanding, we cannot share effectively. Thank you for sharing!

      • dianetrotter profile image

        G. Diane Nelson Trotter 

        8 months ago from Fontana

        You are most welcome! To God be the glory!

      • James A Watkins profile image

        James A Watkins 

        8 months ago from Chicago

        Yes! Amen. I agree with your analysis wholeheartedly. Well done! I have been studying theology all my life. So I am with you.

      • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

        8 months ago from Victoria, Australia

        G. Diane Nelson Trotter: Thank you! How lovely of you and may God bless you.

      • dianetrotter profile image

        G. Diane Nelson Trotter 

        8 months ago from Fontana

        Thank you! An excellent reflectiono before I begin my devotion this morning.

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