Why Study Theology?

Jun 7, 2024 7:29 PM

Two Old Men Disputing

Rembrandt van Rijn 1631

Real question from a friend:

Oh Garry...why can't these people just say, I love Jesus...I don't understand all there is to know about Him, but I trust that what He says to me in His Word & what His Holy Spirit reveals to me is sufficient! Why all this crazy talk of monism, dualism, non-reductive physicalism, & bunches of other crazy stuff? I'm just a simple girl! I know the Lord loves me & I love Him. He's waaayyy to big for anyone in this world to try & fugure out! I'm learning so much & it's so exciting to come to the complete, & humble realization that the Lord is so much more than I could ever understand, both in this lifetime & in eternity, but He loves me! Wow!
My Response:
Love you, ***! I sympathize with your frustration at dealing with all these things that seem so far removed from the faith by which we are saved. 
All of us are called, however, to love the Lord our God with all our minds as well as heart and soul and strength. And it does take a particular kind of strength to learn theology. The brain is like a muscle, and most brains don't get much exercise—and therefore when they are called on to truly work, they work weakly. 
But exercising the brain (by thinking) is just as much trouble and just as painful as strenuously exercising the body. And just like the body that is unused to exercise rebels at it, so the mind unused to real thinking rebels at the introduction of new ideas. That's why most people don't think, they just rearrange the prejudices that other people have taught them.
Thinking is done with ideas, and ideas require terms and definitions. Learning the terms and the definitions is not in itself the thinking process, it's just the exercise equipment. But when you take those terms and start thinking through what they mean and whether they are true or not and what it changes if they are true--that's when you're starting to think, and that's when it starts to hurt. In some ways it's like lifting weights that are heavier than you've ever lifted. It's kind of scary. It's even scarier when you start to understand it...but it's also more exciting.
But why learn all THIS stuff, you might ask? Look at it this way: Doctors have to learn all kinds of stuff that most of their patients will never know or need to know--but they need to know it even if they never encounter it in their practice. Why? Because beyond a few basic things, it's not known by any doctor before he begins to practice what all the diseases and injuries are that he's going to have to treat. AND, all health professionals have to learn a lot of things they'll never specifically use, because it's not possible to predict without fail what they actually will need—but they'll need to be able to communicate with and help the doctors who (should) know more than they do.
So what is the importance of these things like monism, dualism, etc. to the life of a soul? It's all about understanding the whole truth.
Let me put it this way: the devil does not have a doctrine of his own, so he takes God's truth and twists it and pushes it out of balance and lies about it. He's pretty sophisticated, and introduces some nasty conditions into many souls by making the untrue appear to be true.
In some ways it's important to hold to childlike faith--always dependent upon the Lord. However, we are also directed to grow up. Let Eph. 4:14 encourage you:
"So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes."
One other note: Don't be discouraged if you don't understand perfectly everything you're learning. God has relieved us all of the obligation to know everything there is to know. Do your best, exercise your brain, strive for understanding—but trust God to make the world turn.