"I'm no theologian..."
(This was originally posted on October 29, 2019)
I’ve had plenty of people say that to me in the course of a conversation. When that happens, I (sometimes successfully) try to suppress the urge to interrupt them and say, “Ah, but you are a theologian!”
Theology is simply the attempt to understand what God has revealed about Himself. We all are theologians because everybody has at least some opinion of God. What we need to determine is how we are developing our theology. Regardless of your plan (or lack thereof) to build theology, you are developing some understanding about God.
So, let me encourage you to be a more intentional theologian. The Bible is the best book to read when formulating your theology. However, there are many excellent resources that can supplement your Bible reading to help you develop sound theology. These books are usually called Systematic Theologies.
Various topics, usually gathered in 7-9 categories, are addressed by looking at what the whole of scripture teaches on those particular topics in a Systematic Theology. Some Systematics can be very comprehensive. Two of the Systematics I have on my shelf are four volumes each. Others are in one volume but are still hundreds (even into the thousands) of pages long. These are great resources, but difficult to read cover to cover (although many have!).
Thankfully, there are some very helpful brief Systematic Theologies that I would recommend for every Christian man to own and read at some point in their life. R.C. Sproul’s Everyone’s a Theologian and J.I. Packer’s Concise Theology are must have’s for every Christian’s library.
I encourage everyone reading this blog to at least pick up one of these resources and read through it. The chapters are short (usually less than six pages), but they give a good introduction/overview of each topic.
Reading these books will help you formulate a better understanding of God, the Bible, and will assist you in answering your children’s perplexing questions about God and the Bible! All of those benefits will be a great help to your spiritual life.
One other suggestion: it might be helpful to read these books and discuss it with some friends. Gathering weekly to discuss a short chapter on theology could be very helpful to you and your church. So, buy a book, grab a cup of coffee, and have great conversations with other theologians!
PS - recommending these books does not mean that I agree with these men on every theological point. For example, while I respect Dr. Sproul very much, I think he is wrong when it comes to baptism. The Bible is the final authority, not a systematic theology. So, read every book comparing it to Scripture.