• Justin Myers

Don't Be Scared of Theology

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

John 17:3


The word “theology” has a certain aura about it. It can sound intimidating and up in the clouds. Should we not prefer “practical” things? What does theology have to do with day-to-day life? Theological phrases like the “attributes of God” can feel too high and airy for those of us down on solid ground.


Doesn’t theology also bring with it the possibility of losing the heart of our faith? Doesn’t theology distract from loving God and serving him and living life “practically”. Doesn’t theology demand time spent alone in a corner making minute distinctions, reading dusty, over-sized books, and arguing over pointless details on social media?


No. But theology done wrongly can certainly lead to those ways of living. Theology detached from the true and living God and his perfect word end in dry, abstract, inconsequential theory. Theology done outside of a true relationship with God, and love for him and obedience to him, is defective. Theology isolated from the heart and life is not true Christian theology. If we read our Bibles like a math problem, our theology is reduced to squiggles on a page.

Knowing God

True theology does not lead to such hazards. Theology is the study of God. That is what the word means. The goal is to know God, who he is, and what he has done for you. Jesus prayed in John 17:3, that his disciples would have eternal life through knowing the only true God, and Jesus Christ himself. This is the goal of Christian theology. This is the goal of the Christian life, that we know God as he has lovingly revealed himself to us in Christ. And in knowing him we love and live for him. That is genuine theology. So don’t be scared of theology; done rightly, its end is knowing God and loving him.


Some may say, “Okay, I see that theology is good, but I still need something practical.” But does theology inherently lack practicality? I argue it doesn’t. In fact, theology separate from what is “practical” is more like the defective theology from two paragraphs ago. It is wrong to separate theology from “practical” life or Christian living, because Christian theology is always relevant to our everyday lives. It is unhelpful to pit “theological” against “practical”. Instead, we should ensure that we are seeking to know God in greater ways and see that those ways lead us to live as he says we should. Why? Because this is what the Bible teaches.


Daily Life Anchored in Eternal Truth

Living according to our beliefs is an essential element of the Christian faith—essential to theology! Paul said to the Ephesians, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1). There is a calling into the faith, and a worthy manner of living that should result. Jesus ends his sermon on the mount saying, ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24). There is a hearing of the truth, and there is a doing of the truth. They cannot be separated. And the doing is what Christian theology leads to.


Jesus taught many things, for example, in his sermon on the mount. It was theological truth about God that led him to say, “do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink…” (Matt. 6:25). Why should we not be anxious? Jesus answers, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (v. 26). Jesus says that God is both authoritatively seated in heaven, and intimately active in the dealings of earth. He is our Father who values us greatly. Therefore, we do not have to be anxious in daily, “practical” things.


Theology, done rightly, is practiced. Theology done wrongly is treated as separate from what is “practical”. There may be wrong ways to use theology, but that does not mean we should reject it. A knife can really hurt someone, but I am still going to use it to cut up my steak. Christian, if you read God’s word and pray to him, you are engaging in theology; you don’t have to be scared of that. Its proper end is that you would know, love, and serve God in Christ. Strive to let the life you live be anchored in the timeless truths God has revealed of himself to us in Christ.


So, study your Bible prayerfully and rigorously, asking God to help you know him in greater ways. Talk with friends and family about what you are learning of God. Buy a commentary and use it alongside your reading. Buy a book that addresses a topic about God you want to know more about. Find passages of Scripture that address the same issue and see if you agree with the book’s conclusion. When I study, I pray for a deeper love for God and a greater obedience in light of what I have learned. Don’t be scared of this, if you are seeking to know God in Christ through his word, you are doing theology well. You are beginning to participate in eternal life.


“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”


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