Tonight (Wednesday, June 29) I'll be heading over to Lakewood Presbyterian (PCA) in Pell City to speak as part of their summer lecture series on "The Christian Life." My particular topic will be "The Christian Life and Theology." Lakewood's pastor, Daniel Leavengood, has invited PCA pastors from all around the B'ham area to come out and speak on various "Christian Life" topics such as the Christian life and work, worship, recreation, family, public vs. private, outreach, and knowing God's will. The irony in this is that I am the one to speak about the Christian life and theology.
Let me assure you that I'm not the most astute theologian among the men who are speaking at Lakewood this summer. Most, if not all, of them are much more qualified in the field of theology than am I. But I bet there's not a bigger fan of theology among the group than me. I believe the study of theology is one of the most practical things a Christian could possibly do. The doctrine of God's providence is quite a comfort when difficult times come along ... covenant theology is a tremendous help as we consider how to raise children ... the truth of justification by faith through grace functionally combats my tendency to gossip, blame others, and boast of my own good works ... the doctrine of unconditional election motivates me to do evangelism ... the amazing truth of propitiation deals with my feelings of self-condemnation and failure ... an understanding of grace empowers me to forgive those who have wronged me ... a study of God's holiness gives me a growing hatred for sin ... eschatology impacts how I relate to the broken world around me ... embracing God's sovereignty leads me to prayer ... the doctrine of the Trinity actually encourages my fellowship in the church ... etc.
Over the years I've heard things such as "no creed but Jesus" and "theology and doctrine only divides Christians." I just have to disagree with these folks. Theology goes a long way to mature us in our walk with Christ and actually helps bring believers together. Let me encourage you to not fear theology but actually begin your own study in theology. After all, the very word theology means the study of God; surely knowing God better isn't a bad thing. Must our theology be submissive to and in accordance with the Word of God? Absolutely. But good theology and Bible teaching aren't in opposition to one another. So go get a good general book on theology such as Knowing God by J.I. Packer and start getting to actually know God in a deeper and richer way. If you want or need other book suggestions please don't hesitate to ask.