Why study theology? I have met quite a few people who have studied theology and not one has ever told me that they regret having embarked on the journey. I myself embarked on the journey in 2008 when Zimbabwe was in the midst of hyperinflation. It was as if the words of the Lord Jesus Christ came forcefully to me:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
To be fair however, the seed to study theology had been planted in me 18 years before that when a pamphlet advertising Nairobi Theological College had been slipped into our letterbox at home. I was fresh out of school and at the time I felt that route wasn’t for me. However, I never closed the door on that possibility. Coupled with the challenges posed by hyperinflation in 2008 I also felt that in order to be a more effective Elder at Bethany Chapel where I serve as an Elder I needed a formal approach to studying the Bible. Anyway back to the question of why one should study theology:
The Scripture encourages us to study
In one of his letters to Timothy, Paul encouraged Timothy to study to show himself approved before God. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. There is a need to study the Bible whether formally or informally. It is an injunction that we are given in Scripture. Theological studies I found, bring structure and insight into one’s Bible study programme.
Theological Education helps us avoid peddling religious dogma
Through a sound research programme HTC forces you to challenge views that are not in line with the Bible and some positions that have been arrived at through traditions of man or a position taken by a church group or denomination do not pass the biblical test. It is hoped that at the end of theological education one will be faithful to the Scriptures rather than church tradition and dogma. Through this process one ends up with a biblical worldview as opposed to a world view that is heavily influenced by one’s culture and church tradition.
Theological education helps one appreciate diversity
During the course of one’s studies, one has to interact with views that are different from their own and often find that even though there may be a difference in emphasis the other views can also be justified biblically.
Theological Education helps one identify error
The Bible is full of warning against false teachers and their impact. Paul addressed the elders at Ephesus and warned them to look out for false teachers and their false doctrines. In the world of banking bank tellers learn how to identify fake notes by handling the genuine ones. In the process their fingers (through “muscle memory”) will be able to feel if a note is not genuine. While theological colleges don’t claim to have a monopoly on the truth students are equipped with the tools to identify false teaching and better still to avoid false teaching themselves
Theological Education elicits worship
There is off-course a danger that in studying the Bible, one forgets that it is the word of God and not just a manuscript authored by man without divine inspiration. When one gives the Bible its proper place there will be a lot of the “aha!” moments when we marvel at what God has done and how much love he has lavished on us that we find ourselves worshipping Him.
There are many reasons that cause people to study theology but in all the pursuits of man, the chief end must be to glorify God. If you are considering studying the Bible, may the Lord Himself give you the inspiration to take up theological studies. A word of caution however – be careful it may become addictive studying the word of God.