How Do I Study Theology?

Whether you are a convinced believer or a considering skeptic, the
question remains the same: “How do I learn about God?”


Historically, people pursue theology (the study of God) through
seven disciplines:





1. Scripture. Christians believe
that the Bible, or “Scripture,” is the primary source for specific information
about God and His plan. Reading the New
Testament of the Bible is the best starting place for theological seekers. (I offer
some free downloadable resources for Bible beginners here
).


2. Songs. The Christian church, since its inception, has
used songs as a way to express and share theological truth. Filling your soul with the music of faith
will help you make emotional, rather than only academic, connections with God.


3. Schooling. As with any academic pursuit, theology has
its experts and teachers, its debates, textbooks, and institutions. If you’ve never studied this topic before, I
recommend the book “Basic Christianity” by John Stott. Or, if you are seeking
something more in-depth, you might try chewing on “Bible Doctrine” by Wayne
Grudem. Most Bible-centered churches
offer learning options for seekers of all ages.


4. Symbols. Jesus instituted
the use of symbols to help remind us of theological truths (baptism and
communion are the two primary examples). Every time we participate in or observe these customs, key spiritual
teachings are reinforced in our minds. (One point of interest to me: how much energy churches have used in
defending their methods of symbolism, yet how little average Christians know
about what these symbols mean).


5. Serving. There is no
better way to develop a healthy understanding of theology than to serve people
as Jesus did. In this sense, theological
study is not book-learning, it is life-learning. The Bible notes this in James 1:27: “Religion
that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to care for widows
and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the
world.”


6. Solitude.  Learning about
God often comes in the quiet moments of personal prayer and study, away from
the hassles and distractions of the world. I recommend that people set aside regular time to get out in nature and
just talk to God, alone. He can give you
insights into His plan, character and nature that most people miss, simply
because they don’t take the time to ask or meditate.


7. Sacrifice.  Those who have been persecuted for their
faith often have a closer and deeper relationship with God; and a far better
grasp on theology, than those of us with typically comfortable lives. This doesn’t mean we should seek out
difficulties, but rather, we should be willing to stand up for our faith
whatever it may cost us. Also, we may
voluntarily sacrifice time, energy or resources to help others in need,
demonstrating true Christian love without selfish motives.


If you’d like to learn theology, begin with these seven
disciplines. Practice them regularly,
and you’ll soon learn why the universities of old called theology the “queen of
the sciences.”



Personal Evaluation:


Do I read the Scripture regularly?


Do I listen to Christian songs?


Am I involved in theological schooling?


Do I observe biblical symbols & customs?


Am I serving other people regularly and intentionally?


Do I make time for spiritual solitude?


Do I make sacrifices for God, or to help others in His name?

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