What is theology? Sometimes referred to as the queen of the sciences, it is the “study of God” as He has revealed Himself. It is seeking to know the One True Triune God who has revealed all that we need to know of Him, of His person and work. Though the works (i.e. creation) reveal enough to recognize He exists, it is in Christ that we come to know Him.
Who does it? Everyone who is in Christ “by the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit” is drawn into knowing God, and into the call of being a theologian. (Titus 3:5) This is a lifelong work, adventure, calling (see here).
How? Begin with reading. Many have goals of reading the Bible once a year; others have no goals and they read a random verse thinking this is how the Spirit works. God created order, delights in order, and is not opposed to our being orderly, beloved. Still others read so often that they do not keep track, but if we tried–we would see that these ones read their Bibles several times through each year. If you read slowly, it would take 72 hours to read through. Imagine…
Apart from His Word, you have only your own thoughts–not His thoughts. A theologian, a believer, one who truly knows Him, says “You have words of eternal life!” (John 6) But never says “my own thoughts, apart from what You have revealed, are what really matter.” We happily build upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ the cornerstone (see Ephesians 2). Our calling is to listen, not to demand; we come to the Scriptures and He gives us understanding. We choose the good portion, beloved.
In the fullness of times, Jesus Christ came; and in these last days God has spoken to us in His Son; the Word made flesh that dwelt among us–the Word that was in the beginning, that created everything, and in whom is life, the Light of men. This only begotten God has explained Him. (Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 1:1-3; John 1:1-18)
As you read, copy portions, write out what you are learning, and journal your questions. It may be years, but He will illumine your mind, give you understanding, answering your questions.
A theologian is always learning. A reformed theologian is always open to being reformed, knowing that it is in Christ alone that we are regenerate, by faith alone, by grace alone, Scripture alone being the rule of life and faith, to the glory of God alone.
Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus…guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge” which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.2 Timothy 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 6:20-21
We are truly His disciples when we continue, when we abide in His word (John 8). We continue as we read, memorize and meditate, discuss, and fellowship in this word.
What you think upon, focus on, set your mind on, shapes and moulds you. Theology is setting your mind on His thoughts, that His Spirit would make you more like Him (Romans 8). So, is it His Word, the thoughts of the One who is the Source; or will it be your own feelings and thoughts with no basis?
This will be the most important part of your worldview, the lens through which you view reality–because you will understand and know that He is the Source, the Creator, the Sustainer, and is Providential. Natural laws? He formed nature that way! We love to study nature and the way things work; yet we do not discredit miracles or seek to explain them as having happened because of natural laws. We know Him, and we know that He is not bound by what He created; He can walk on water, still a storm with a word, raise the dead, heal the leper, destroy Sodom, turn Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt, part the Red Sea, and put a new star in the sky to point to His Son’s being born of a woman; and we can believe all these-trusting the historical sources that record these, without explaining them away with “well maybe, nature…” Theologians believe in natural laws and the ways God created order and beauty in the universe; but also in miracles and the God who can act outside of our imaginings, above and beyond what we can imagine.
The mystery of godliness is that He heals our minds, minds that had been suppressing the truth; and He fills us with His Spirit of truth, that we may share in God’s perspective of time, history, matter, space, good and evil, joy, heartache, and even the purpose and meaning of life. Christ is the center–He made the Triune God known to us, we met God in Christ. In Him we know and understand! (1 John 5:20). We are His disciples, His theologians.
James Boice’s book (see here) makes a great beginning–good for your home library to come back to often. While taking “Modern and Contemporary Christian Thought” with Dr. John Morrison, we used this book; I’ve already bought copies so that my children can have their own when they are seniors in high school. From his preface on why he wrote:
Next week we will talk about how (and why) to grow your theological library!