Contrary to what one may believe theology is not just for the theologian. Theology is for everybody, especially the Christian. The moment one opens his mouth to express his ideas and concepts about God, he is engaging in theology. Why is this? Consider the etymology of the word theology. Theology comes from two Greek words. The first word is “theos” (pronounced thay-aws [as in awesome]) and it means God. The second word is “logos” (pronounced log- aws [again as in awesome]) its general meaning is word or saying. When we put them together we have “a word or a saying about God”. This definition is oversimplified but it will do for this brief discussion. There are, of course, numerous fields of theology such as biblical theology, systematic theology, exegetical theology but we will stick to theology as it relates to the study of God alone.
The point I’m trying to make is that whenever anyone expresses so much as a thought about God they have engaged in theology to some degree or another. When the atheist says he does not believe in the existence of God, he has engaged in theology (which has a bit of irony to it). When the Christian shares his views on God, he has participated in the art/science of theology whether he knows it or not. Certainly, God would be displeased with anyone of his children who did not accurately represent the truth regarding His character and such. This is just one of 1000 of reasons why it is important for believers to understand the basics of theology.
It is not necessary to attend seminary to grasp the concepts of theological doctrines. There are many good books that can be easily acquired for little cost which teach the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. Two such books which can be acquired new for under $70 (and used for far cheaper) are Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth by Charles Ryrie and Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem. Each of these writers has varying viewpoints in certain areas of theology which gives good balance to the Christian reader. It is my recommendation that every Christian read some sort of basic theology book at some point in their Christian walk. The apostle Peter tells us to be prepared to defend our faith when asked for the hope we have. If we don’t know the basics of our Christian faith, how can we ever engage others in dialogue without the high possibility of misrepresenting the Godhead?
I’m not suggesting all Christians need to know the ins and outs of theology so they can engage in apologetics. But I am suggesting all Christians should make themselves acquainted with the very basic tenets of the faith with which they profess. It’s hard to dialogue with someone if there is not a fundamental understanding and agreement as to what things mean. One must have a basic idea of vocabulary, ideas, and concepts to coherently communicate to someone else what it is they’re trying to say (just as I am attempting to do now, albeit not the best). I’m not a chemical engineer, a mechanic, or a quilter, therefore, I will not engage in any meaningful or in-depth conversations with those who understand those particular subjects well. Why? Because I do not know the subject matter or vocabulary associated with them. I believe the same analogy can be drawn when it comes to dialoguing about matters concerning God.
Having said all that I’ve said, I do also understand that theology may seem intimidating or just downright boring for many. What I would say to the person who is intimidated by theology is to ask God for his wisdom and understanding. God is pleased to reveal these matters to his children who diligently seek to understand him. And for the person who has no desire for theology, I would tell that person also to ask God for the desire to be placed within his heart. Again, God is pleased to sanctify his children by removing old desires which have no value and replacing them with desires that have eternal value.
So, who should know theology? Everyone should know theology. Why? Because were all theologians. How are we all theologians? Because anytime we say anything about God we are expressing theology. Let’s do our best to accurately represent our Lord and Savior by understanding the fundamentals of our faith.