Many Christians today do not understand or see the importance of studying theology. While nothing should ever replace the reading of God’s Word and personal communion with Him, there are many benefits and I would argue necessary reasons to study theology. First, by studying theology, especially in a systematic sense, we gain a better understanding of the teachings of Scripture and how we should apply it to our lives. When we correctly interpret the Scriptures, it will give us better knowledge and understanding on how we are to live in this broken world.
The study of theology is never simply about gaining more knowledge, instead it is a time of growing in our understanding of the God who created us in His image. In turn, that will lead us to worship and obedience towards Him. The study of theology should always have practical application to our everyday lives. Millard Erikson said, “Far from being dry or abstract, these are the most important types of truths. They are statements on the fundamental issues of life: namely, who am I, what is the ultimate meaning of the universe, where am I going? Christian doctrine is, then, the answers the Christian gives to those questions that all human beings ask” (Erickson).
The second reason I would argue that the study of theology is necessary is, when we grow in our knowledge of scripture we are sanctified, and we therefore grow in our ability to teach others about the God of the bible. In Matthew chapter 28, Jesus leaves us with the command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). We are commanded to teach sound doctrine, therefore we must equip ourselves to do so. “The basic reason for studying systematic theology, then, is that it enables us to teach ourselves and others what the whole Bible says, thus fulfilling the “teaching” part of the Great Commission” (Grudem).
Lastly, the study of theology helps us to discern and correct any false ideas that we may have and gives us the ability to pick out false teachers and gospels that are being taught. This is especially important in the postmodern world we live in today. Paul, while writing to Timothy said, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13-14). Paul understood the ramifications of false teaching in that time and it is no different today.
We are called to protect the truth of scripture from any misconceptions, and in order to be able to sniff out the wolves among the sheep we have to know sound doctrine that comes through studying theology. All scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16) and this means that all of God’s Word matters. His words are ”profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16b-17).
Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology, Second Edition. Zondervan Academic, 2020.
Erickson, Millard J. Introducing Christian Doctrine. Baker Academic, 2015.