Read the New Transcript Below
We Are All Theologians
Though most people don’t realize it, we are all theologians.
Theology is usually associated with abstract, academic subjects taught by professors. Such professional theologians are needed, of course. But all followers of Jesus Christ are called by God to be theologians. The professor of theology at a seminary is no more or less a theologian than the youth minister who seeks to deal with the doubts of college students, or the Sunday school teacher who tells Old Testament stories to children, or the father who leads family devotions, or the person who does not teach in any obvious way but simply tries to obey Scripture.
It’s easy to think of the New Testament books and letters as if they were all academic papers written by highly educated seminary professors. But most New Testament authors were ordinary people, including fishermen, a tax-collector, and a physician. These everyday followers of Christ wrote their letters and books in response to challenging problems and difficult questions they faced as they were living out God’s mission in the world through his church. In his book Kingdom and Mission, Arthur Glasser calls them task theologians.
The New Testament authors and local communities of faith, in whose midst these documents were written, were not marginal to participation in the mission to which God had called his Church. These authors were all missionaries. When they were engaged in theological reflection, its focus was on the missionary task in hand. They were “task” theologians, and what they produced had relevance to the particular tasks in which they were involved.
Like those writers, we are all called to learn God’s answers to questions and solutions to problems in order to obey and honor God as we seek to advance God’s mission in the world. So, if we are true followers of Christ, we must be theologians. The only question is whether we are good or bad theologians. Our sincere hope and prayer is that this booklet will help you become a better one, by the grace of God and for the glory of God.
What is Theology?
Let’s begin with a brief quiz that contains some important questions. Pause after each question, before looking at the answer, and think about what comes to mind. Then compare that with the answers below.
Q: What is theology?
A: Theology is the study of God.
Q: Where can we study God?
A: We can only study God where he makes himself known.
Q: Where does God reveal himself?
A: God makes himself known in nature, but primarily in the Scriptures.
Q: What is the difference between theology and the Scriptures?
A: Theology restates the truth revealed in the Scripture.
Q: If we have the Scriptures, why do we need theology?
A: Theology helps us know the Bible’s solutions to our problems.
Q: Why do we need to know the Bible’s solutions to our problems?
A: To become mature in Christ by applying Scripture to our lives.
So, what is our definition of theology?
Theology is the application of God’s revelation in Scripture to all areas of life.
Notice the important word “application” in this definition. The purpose of theology is to know God’s truth in Scripture so we’ll become mature in Christ by applying it to all areas of our lives.
This was the ultimate goal of all the preaching and teaching of the Apostle Paul, the man God inspired to write almost one-third of the New Testament.
In Colossians 1:28-29 he writes,
“Him (Christ) we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”
When Paul writes to Timothy, he reminds him that the purpose of the “sacred writings” is to make him “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” so that, as a man of God, he “may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:14-17).
Paul’s focus is not just to help people understand God’s Word with their minds, but also apply it to their hearts and lives in a way that leads them to maturity in Christ. His goal in preaching and teaching is the practical application of the Scripture to people’s lives in a way that leads to their transformation in Christ.
This is what Jesus had in mind when he gave us the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matt. 28:19-20, NIV). His commission to us is not just to teach people everything he commanded, but to teach people how to obey everything he commanded. There’s a big difference between learning all Jesus commanded, and learning to obey all he commanded.
The real test of whether you know Christian theology is not in the classroom. Successfully passing an exam on the doctrine of God’s sovereignty is not the real test. It’s later, when you’ve just learned that a loved one has been in a serious accident or has a life-threatening disease. That’s when you learn how sound your theology is, and what you really believe about the doctrine of God’s sovereignty.
Registration closes September 15