What is your reaction to the word “theology”?
Confused? Bored? Most people think it’s a subject that eggheads, academics, and “religious” people enjoy—it’s not for everyone.
Or is it?
Theology is an exciting endeavor when you realize its purpose. But what is theology? Let’s start with a definition.
What Does “Theology” Mean?
The word theology comes from two Greek words: theos (God) and logos (word). Logos is a suffix in numerous English words like biology, geology, and so on. So in its most basic form, “theology” means a word about God.
More broadly, it’s the study of God, or what we believe about Transcendence.
But what god are we talking about? Can we really know anything about him? Why would that matter for you today? And what’s the point of knowing him?
Those are precisely the questions we will answer here.
What God Are We Talking About?
There are all sorts of “theologies” out there, because people have all kids of ideas about the Divine—is he one, many, or there at all?
Even though some dislike the formal discipline of theology, everybody has one. Often we call this a “worldview” or “philosophy of life.”
Ask any five-year-old what they think about God, and they’ll give you an answer. We all have a “theology” both innately, and formed by popular values, people in authority like our parents or mentors, and our own preferences as to what we want to believe.
Even atheists have a theology—that God does not exist.
At Bibles.net we are interested in the God of the Bible, who entered our world in the person of Jesus of Nazareth as one of us to make God known to us.
Jesus Christ is the heart of our theology—the heart behind our theology. See, true theology is about getting to know a person, not merely studying ideas. For Jesus said:
“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.” (John 14:7 NIV)
Our theology comes from God’s own Word about himself—the Bible. We call the Bible God’s “self-revelation,” because in it, God has revealed everything we need to know about him.
This revelation sets us apart from all other organized religions. We don’t believe that we seek an unknowable or impersonal deity; we read and understand from this Book that God has sought us by introducing himself. It just takes reading, and a little faith to discover him.
Can We Really Know God?
Granted, we can’t know everything about God. He is perfect and infinite; we are imperfect and finite. He is Creator; we are created. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t know anything about him.
God has revealed himself to us generally through what he has made and specifically in the Bible. If you are interested in a further investigation into how God has revealed himself to us, check out this article.
Why Does Theology Matter Today?
You must study God’s Word if you want to get to know God better. However, your newfound knowledge will have implications:
1. Belief Shapes Behavior
Theology relates to life. Your beliefs direct your actions. If you believe in many gods, then you will have to figure out which gods are the best ones to devote your attention to.
If you don’t believe God exists, you are going to make decisions without considering guidance from any god.
If you believe he exists, you will surely care to know what he’s like, and how you are responsible to him.
How we think about God determines the direction of our lives. “Belief dictates behavior.” But then we must also consider that “Doctrine defines duty.”
2. Our Relationship to the Divine Determines Our Responsibility
What we think about God has huge implications. We read in the Bible:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)
One classic definition says, “Theology is thinking God’s thoughts after him.” When we do theology properly—getting to know God through the Bible—we begin to think correctly about God and are able to properly discern his good will.
And with this knowledge comes the moral responsibility to behave properly, in accordance with God’s nature and will, as he has revealed to us in his Word.
This means that theology is not just studying God; it’s getting to know him better and learning about his expectations for us so that we can live according to our purpose.
What’s the Point of Theology?
Theology involves our hearts, not just our minds.
Think of the relationship you have with your parents or spouse or best friend. What makes that relationship special is the deep familiarity you have with that person. You don’t just know arbitrary facts about them; you love them. The more you know, the more you can enjoy them. You relate in an intimate and personal way.
Similarly, we don’t aim to collect random facts about our God. We strive to understand him better so we can increasingly enjoy a relationship with him.
Love of God is the goal of theology.
Jesus put it this way: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NIV).
This is the goal of Bible-based study of God: The more we learn about God, the more we love him and enjoy him, and the more we know his thoughts and his ways, the better we can represent him in the world.
Because God made us to love him and love others, learning more about him is key to living our lives with meaning and purpose. A meaningful relationship with God and with the other people begins with a right knowledge of God.
So would you like to get to know him better?