Theology gets a bad rap.
Too many Christians view theology as something that doesn’t apply to their lives. But this couldn’t be further from the truth! As R.C. Sproul wrote,
“Every Christian is a theologian. We are always engaged in the activity of learning about the things of God. We are not all theologians in the professional or academic sense, but theologians we are, for better or for worse1Sproul, R. C. (1992). Essential truths of the Christian faith. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House..” – R.C. Sproul
Your actions as a Christian are driven by your beliefs, and your beliefs are influenced by your theology. Even if you’ve chosen to never formally study theology, you still have a theology – and there’s a good chance that an unexamined theology is inconsistent, incomplete, and at worst, may be unbiblical. Scripture warns us what can happen when we stop caring about sound doctrine:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” – 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NKJV)
Our theology affects how we worship, how we serve, how we pray, and how we love. It affects our ability to detect and flee from bad teaching. It helps us to fully understand the Gospel by bringing into sharp focus who God is, what Man deserved, and what Christ accomplished. Good theology will positively move our head, our heart, and our hands.
A Sound Theological Method
If theology is so important, why do so many Christians ignore it? I believe that it is because modern academic theology has lost what was a guiding principle for most theologians throughout history – that the study of doctrine was subservient to the practical application of the doctrine through pastoral and practical theology. One of the best examples of this approach can be found in the writings of the pastor-theologians of the Puritan era.
The Puritans are often misunderstood. Though the language of Edwards, Bunyan, and the like can be difficult for the modern reader, to their contemporaries it read as the plain speak of a layman. The Puritans took great pains to write in the language of the everyman so that it could be understood and applied. Puritans were precise theologians, but always carried the doctrine through to practical application. For example, almost all of John Bunyan’s books ended with an extensive section titled “Practical Applications” which gave concrete ways of applying the doctrine to their daily life. The Puritans aimed to engage both the mind and the heart of the believer.
“As on the one hand, there must be light in the understanding, as well as an affected fervent heart; or where there is heat without light, there can be nothing divine or heavenly in that heart: so, on the other hand, where there is a kind of light without heat, a head stored with notions and speculations with a cold and unaffected heart, there can be nothing divine in that light, that knowledge is no true spiritual knowledge of divine things. If the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart2Edwards, J. (1974). The works of Jonathan Edwards (Vol. 1, p. 243). Banner of Truth Trust..” – Jonathan Edwards
One of the reasons why the Puritans, as well as most pre-modern theologians, were so adept at connecting doctrine to everyday life is because they tended to view the various theological disciplines as a whole, instead of the modern idea of academic specialization. Furthermore, they viewed the chief end of the theological task to glorify God, cause Christians to love God and their neighbor, and give practical guidance for pious living.
This approach – doctrine that is intended to lead to devotion – is what I hope to achieve with this blog. God willing, I hope to connect Exegetical, Biblical, Systematic, and Historic Theology in the service of explaining concrete, applicable Practical theology that helps believers to revere, worship, and love their God, and serve, evangelize, disciple, and love their neighbor.