It is all too common for preachers, especially some of my brethren in fundamental Baptist circles, to ridicule learning and diligent study of theology. The concept of Seminary is sneered at by some of these men. “You don’t need all that higher learning,” they scoff. “You just need the word of God!”
Charles Spurgeon had a few words for those who, in his day, echoed similar sentiments:
Be well instructed in theology, and do not regard the sneers of those who rail at it because they are ignorant of it. Many preachers are not theologians, and hence the mistakes which they make. It cannot do any hurt to the most lively evangelist to be also a sound theologian, and it may often be the means of saving him from gross blunders. Nowadays, we hear men tear a single sentence of Scripture from its connection, and cry “Eureka! Eureka!” as if they had found a new truth; and yet they have not discovered a diamond, but a piece of broken glass.… Let us be thoroughly well acquainted with the great doctrines of the Word of God.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1945), 196.
2 thoughts on “The Necessity of Theology”
But whose theology? Is it biblical theology devoid of man’s opinion? God doesn’t contradict Himself and His doctrine is sure, so differing views of what the Bible says shows that at least one person is wrong! The Holy Spirit and the anointing that He gives as we study God’s Word illumines His Word to His children. Man made systems always look at the Bible with the grid of man’s opinion.
You make a very good point, Eliza, and one that far too many people forget about. Theology means little more than “knowledge of God.” This knowledge of God has been revealed by Him in Scripture, which is the only infallible authority for Christian faith and life. When I speak about the necessity of theology, then, I am talking about a study of God’s word and what it says about our Christian faith and life.
You are correct to note that man’s attempts to understand His word are fallible. There is no infallible Christian theologian around! All systematic theology (or systemization and synthesis of God’s word on various doctrines) should be wholly subject to Scripture. Therefore it isn’t quite fair to say that systems always view Scripture through the grid of “man’s opinion.” An honest Christian will admit his fallibility as he nevertheless seeks to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ.
I think I understand where you’re coming from. My point is simply that we need to not fear studying God, knowledge of which is found in His word. Theology textbooks and man’s opinions are always subject to Scripture. Sometimes seminary students become more in love with textbooks than Scripture! These things ought not so to be (Jas 3:10).