Dr Jane Williams is Assistant Dean and Tutor and Lecturer in Systematic Theology at St Mellitus College. In this article, she reflects on the importance of studying theology.
All Christians are theologians – we speak to God and expect God to speak to us. But if we are to share our faith in Jesus with people who do not yet know him, we need to be confident in our belief and deeply-rooted in our life of prayer and our understanding of the Bible. We study theology in order to equip ourselves to live our lives with God and share our faith.
Studying theology is a bold enterprise – after all, we are exploring the nature of the living God. So theology should be studied with expectation and with awe. Since it is God we are talking about, it is not surprising that the more we study, the bigger and more exciting God gets. Some people have been afraid that if they study theology their faith will be undermined, but the opposite is the case. A faith that cannot be examined cannot be trusted and cannot be shared, whereas a faith that is explored prayerfully and in good company gets richer and richer.
As we study theology, we find ourselves resourced and challenged by the faith, understanding and prayer of those who have gone before us. But we live in a culture that increasingly does not know God, does not know that human beings are loved and called to live transformed lives, in the likeness of Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a message of such good news that we must equip ourselves to share it. We have the privilege of living in the Spirit because others have shared their faith with us. Now it is our turn. God’s Church and God’s world need theologians on fire with the knowledge and love of God, and skilled at helping people to see God at work in our world.
Why study theology? In order to love God more deeply and share God’s love with others.
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