Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matt 7:24-27)
We tend to think of theologians in the professional sense - i.e., as someone who has graduated from seminary and has aThD after their name. People like Wayne Grudem, Tim Keller, John Piper and J.I. Packer.
But in fact, everyone is a theologian in some sense, There are no exceptions. Everyone has some concept of the existence (or non-existence) a divine being. Whenever someone expresses an opinion on Jesus, they are practicing theology whether they know it or not. Agnostics possess a theology that decrees uncertainty. An atheist is a theologian whose theology says there is no God. Some theologies may be very simple (i.e., that of a small child) while others may be quite complex.
R.C. Sproul often hears people push back with an almost hostile attitude toward the study of doctrine, saying things like, “I don’t need all that doctrine — doctrine divides. All I need to know is Jesus.” Sproul says he likes to ask them, “Well, who is Jesus? As soon as you start to answer that question,” Sproul observes, “you’re in theology. It’s unavoidable.”
The question then, is not who is a theologian, but how good of a theologian? The answer is immensely important because one's theology is inevitably the foundation of their worldview. Worldviews guide individual decisions and actions; what one believes determines how they live their life.
Unfortunately, most people hold to a theology that is shaped by experience, friends, cultural trends, teachers, books, movies, music, the Internet and a myriad of other things ... the vast majority of which have no basis in truth. Facebook theology is a recipe for disaster.
Theology is the foundation for every person's worldview. Bad theology equals a bad foundation for a worldview that at best leads to a distorted understanding of reality - at worst, a fatal perspective. Good theology is a solid foundation on which to build a worldview that affirms reality as it really is.
No one gets to opt out of thinking about the questions regarding God even if they don’t believe in God. You might not think much about God or what God does and doesn’t do in our world. Your Bible (if you even have one) may be weighted with dust, your prayers might be rusty from neglect and church might rate alongside paying taxes. Even still, you are a theologian because your actions reflect your perception of God.
The question is not whether you are a theologian (you are) but whether you will be a good one. Good thinking about God depends not so much on having advanced degrees in theology, studying lots of scripture or commitment to God’s cause. While these things are important, it does not guarantee that you actually have an imagination about God that fits the kind of God that God really is.
If we want to know God, we must be careful to refrain from assuming that we know where to start because God is so different from us. We must allow Him to reveal Himself to us on his terms and avoid trying to fit Him into our preassumptions. God is not a list of characteristics or a set of categories that determine what He does and does not do. He is personal and the nature of God is revealed ultimately not as a text book, a theology class or even a sermon. God is revealed in a Person. If we don’t get this about Him, then we can miss every subsequent question we might have about God and theology.
In the Old Testament, the greatest threat to the security of Israel was not external; rather it was the false prophet within the gates who would distort and direct people away from truth. If we're wise, we will let the collective wisdom of the church throughout the ages lead us into a deeper understanding of Scripture and greater discernment regarding heresy.
We can know the truth and choose not do the truth, but we can hardly do the truth if we don’t know what the truth is.