Why Is Theology Important?

Bert Waggoner, Former National Director, explores why theology is important.

Bert Waggoner

Former National Director, Vineyard USA

I would consider myself a theologian of sorts. That is not saying too much because the fact is, every Christian is a theologian of sorts. Whether consciously or unconsciously, every follower of Jesus Christ is either a good or bad theologian, as all disciples of Christ have some sort of belief system and do some reflection on those beliefs and their importance for the Christian life. That is what theology is. Theology is the discipline that involves reflection on faith and the articulation of those beliefs. Why is this discipline important? I could list many reasons, but here are my top ten reasons:

Top Ten Reasons Theology Is Important

1. Theology provides us with the answers to life’s questions regarding meaning in life: “Who am I?”, “What am I doing here?”, and “Where am I going?”

Theology tells us not just what the Bible says, but also what it means. - Bert Waggoner Click To Tweet

2. Theology tells us not just what the Bible says, but also what it means.

“What it means to sinner and saint in their journey from the city of anywhere to the city of somewhere – plagued by a thousand plights.”

“The church” if it is to be true, must preach the Word. If it is to be relevant, it must speak to the times. Christian theology is thus the blending of the changeless with the changing.” (Bruce Shelley, By What Authority?, p. 140).

3. Theology helps us recognize God not simply in life’s boundary situations, but in the center of every situation.

4. Theology is vital to spirituality.

“Devotion to Jesus cannot long maintain itself apart from theological fidelity and integrity.” (Donald Bloesch, The Crises Of Piety, p. 3)

“Theology reforms our life and our doctrine which we need, because a holy life divorced from sound doctrine becomes moralism.” (Donald Bloesch, A Crises of Piety p. 4)

5. Theology makes us more or less articulate our experience of God’s multifaceted grace.

God does not wait until we have knowledge before giving us grace. We learn to articulate His grace in theology.

6. Theology puts wonder in worship (Hebrews 12:28-29).

7. Theology plays a strategic prophetic role in the Church.

Paul the preacher/theologian constantly reflected this role. There are blindnesses in every age of which no one is conscious because they are so widespread that they are recognized as normal. There is unbelief that so completely captures the mind of an age that it goes on unchallenged even within the Church. There are sins that establish themselves so securely in a civilization that no one any longer considers them to be sins and they may become knit into the very texture of the church. All three of these statements could be illustrated profusely from history; in fact, the witness of history is that usually the most dangerous blindnesses, unbelief and sin in the church remain unrecognized until they bring disaster upon it.

“There is need, therefore for yet another service of God in the Church, a discipline in which the Church will mount the watchtower and scan the life and faith in all directions, in order to detect the presence of blindness, unbelief, unfaithfulness, and sin, and give warning before it is too late.” (James Smart, The Teaching Ministry Of the church, pp.32, 33)

Theology makes all practical things really practical because its primary concern is not with theory or speculation. Click To Tweet

8. Theology makes all practical things really practical because its primary concern is not with theory or speculation.

“The two terms, ‘spiritual’ and ‘theology,’ keep good company with one another. ‘Theology’ is the attention that we give to God, the effort we give to knowing God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures and in Jesus Christ. ‘Spiritual’ is the insistence that everything that God reveals of Himself and His works is capable of being lived by ordinary men and women in their homes and workplaces. ‘Spiritual’ keeps ‘theology’ from degenerating into merely thinking and talking and writing about God at a distance. ‘Theology’ keeps ‘spiritual’ from becoming merely thinking and talking and writing about the feelings and thoughts one has about God. The two words need each other, for we know how easy it is for us to let our study of God (theology) get separated from the way we live; we also know how easy it is to let our desires to live whole and satisfying lives (spiritual lives) get disconnected from who God actually is and the ways He works among us.” (Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, p.4)

9. Theology makes preaching as difficult as it ought to be.

“All preachers should be theologians, and all theologians preachers.” (Emil Brunner)

“The false preacher is one who has to say something; the true preacher has something to say.” (Charles Spurgeon)

10. Theology makes praying as easy as it ought to be.