Theological study is meant for everyone. That is a belief of Protestants since the Reformation. Up until that time, the study of Scripture and the task of theological inquiry was relegated to Magistrate who alone could interpret Scripture. With the advent of the printing press and Luther’s passion to translate the Scripture into German, the everyday believer was able read the Scripture for themselves.
This year marks the 490th year of the Protestant Reformation. During this time period, Christians have disagreed on numerous theological issues, most appealing directly to the Scripture for support for their position. Most recently, Evangelicalism has seen theological differences ranging from the relationship of Evangelicalism and Catholicism (as with Francis Beckwith et al), paedobaptism versus credobaptism (Dunan/Piper and Grudem/Dever), cessationism versus continuationism, and egalitarianism versus complementarianism (among others). When a relatively new student of God’s Word encounters such various positions, one can understand the perplexity and confusion they must have. Furthermore, one could venture to say, “If such experienced theologians cannot agree on what the Scripture says, why should I embark upon such an endeavor?”
It is true that, as one of the greatest theologians said,
“Now we see in a mirror dimply, but then face to face. Now I now in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
However, because we cannot know fully or exhaustively does not give us a justifiable rationale from knowing what can be known (in part). God has in fact chosen to make Himself known to us through revelatory means—the written and living Word of God. The fact that God has taken the initiative to speak to us and reveal Himself to us alone is enough warrant for a lifetime of serious theological study. Furthermore, not only has He spoken to us, but He has also given us the rational abilities to understand His revelation, having been made in the likeness of our Creator and also illuminates the truth of Scripture through the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit (the divine Author of Scripture) Whom we have received from our Redeemer so that we can have the mind of Christ. God has provided us a written revelation that is not to be unraveled by a secret code or matrix nor is it to be mystically apprehended. Rather, the Scripture is written in a clear and understandable way such that all believers can know and understand what God means for us to know in His Word (perspicuity of Scripture). The truth that we ascertain is such that it corresponds with reality as it is rooted in the very nature of God. Thus, God has placed a premium on truth. Our Father is the God of all truth (Isaiah 65:16), Jesus is self-defined as “the truth” (John 14:6), the Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of truth” (John 16:13), and Scripture is the “word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15; John 17:17). And as we see throughout Scriptures specifically and church history generally, men and women have abandoned the truth (2 Tim. 2:18), become deceived by false teachers (2 Tim. 4:4), and pervert the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
We are living in a day where Christians, every Christian, should be committed to serious theological study because the truth of Scripture, of the gospel, of the person and work of Jesus Christ, of the character and attributes of God, and exclusivity of the Christian faith are being attacked both from within and from without. Not only are we called to proclaim the truth, but we also must defend the truth, uphold the truth, and pass on the truth as good stewards of that which has been entrusted to us.
Will you be numbered among that group of believers? Will you be a blue collar theologian? If so, I pray that this series will encourage you and help you know, believe, share, defend, and die for the faith that has once for all been handed down to the saints (Jude 3).