Everyone is a theologian.
I would make the argument that what you believe about God is the most important aspect of your life. After all, we are what we think aren’t we? Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (NKJV). Your opinion about God completely shapes your worldview and moral code, therefore directly influencing your behaviors and thoughts. Because we all have an opinion about God, everyone is a theologian.
But what does this mean? Well lets break the word “theology” down. “Theo” comes from Greek origin (theos -θεός) which means God; while “ology” in the English language denotes to a field of study. So, when you combine these two together we get theology, which is the study of God. I mentioned that everyone is a theologian because everyone, whether it is biblical or not, has an opinion about God.
Since we are all theologians, the question we should ask ourselves is, “do I have sound theology?” Do we embrace true or false doctrine? Since I have been following Christ, I have encountered many theological discussions with people. What I see too often is that the majority of opinions people hold about God come from a groundless foundation, meaning they come from no source of objective truth. These opinions come from what the individual believes God should be like based off their own experiences. These opinions commonly change as experiences change.
For example, I recall talking to a friend of mine a few months back on the love of God. He began to tell me that he believed God’s love was a force that we can all experience whether or not we know Christ as Lord; and he believed that if we loved one another (according to his own standard of morality) we would go to heaven. He began to see the problem in his theology when I asked, “how do you know this is true?” My friend begrudgingly realized that he had no way of proving that this was actually true. His truth claim about God’s love was relative to his personal opinions and not objective truth that is authoritative, meaning truth that we are all held accountable to. This is an example of false doctrine (teaching) about God’s love and is poor theology.
So where do we get sound (good) theology, especially as followers of Jesus Christ? We look no further than the Word of God — the Bible. For the Christian worldview, we reject the notion that truth is subjective to personal opinions. We reject that what is truth for one individual can be false for another. Truth is truth, whether we like it or not. The truths of Scripture never change (Isaiah 40:8). Our worldview as believers is that truth is objective and binding to all mankind, and the source of this objective truth is the Scriptures themselves (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This means that what Scripture teaches is not just true for me but for every person on the face of the earth.
The goal for Christians in reading the Word is to not impose our own authority over Scripture, only agreeing with what we like, but rather allowing Scripture to have authority over our lives and submitting to it in reverential awe. The challenge in submitting to the Word of God as the supreme source of truth and authority in our lives is twofold. First, it implies that we actually study the Word of God. We cannot have good theology, accurate beliefs about God, if we do not study the Word. Secondly, as hinted above, when we do study the Word we cannot ignore or reject those passages that we do not like.
It is the duty of the believer to do diligent study of difficult passages and to obey the Word of God rather than forcing the Word to obey your preferences. There are many truths in Scripture that trouble me, the reality of Hell being one. I take no pleasure in the eternal conscious torment of unbelievers. But since God’s Word clearly teaches it, I have no other choice than to believe it and proclaim it.
R.C. Sproul said, “It is your duty to believe and to teach what the Bible teaches, not what you want it to teach.” If God says it in His Word, then that settles the debate over what is true.
What is the purpose of having right beliefs about God? There are many individuals who know much about God but live godless lives. This only testifies to the reality that we can know many right things about God but still not know God. Satan knows Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11), but he is not saved. Therefore, the goal of Scripture and having good theology is not just to inform us in who God is, gaining pointless head knowledge, but to bring us to saving faith in the God of the Bible (Romans 10:17) and live lives pleasing to Him (Psalm 119:11). Right beliefs should produce right living.
So, do you have sound theology? What do you believe about God? Be careful to not formulate your opinions based off your own desires; rather take your opinions and beliefs about God from the pages of Scripture. If you claim to be a Christian, it is imperative that the Bible is your source of truth and that you devote yourself to diligent study so you can be an informed disciple of Christ in a skeptical age. May a love for who God has revealed Himself to be in His Word be your driving passion, and not simply a pursuit for head knowledge.
Knowledge that remains in the head is powerless, but knowledge that touches the heart can impact many.