Classroom Preview: The Goal of Theology
Posted On May 31, 2018
What is the goal of studying theology? Dr. Keith Mathison describes how a true relationship with God leads to worship.
When we meet and begin to fall in love with somebody, what do we usually do? A young man who meets a young lady, when he falls in love, there are certain things he does. A young woman does the same things. One of the first things we do is we start to ask questions. We want to get to know this person. We sit down across from this person all starry-eyed, and we ask them about their childhood. What are the things they like? What are the things they don’t like? Tell me about your childhood. Tell me about your hopes and dreams. We ask all kinds of questions trying to get to know this person better. If we think of theology as a study of a person, that’s more what we’re doing with theology. We’re doing something similar to that.
When we study Scripture prayerfully, we are asking these kinds of questions of God. We’re asking God, “Who are you? Tell me about yourself as we pray and study the Scriptures.” What we find in the Scriptures in answer to that question is a doctrine of God. It is theology proper. We may ask God, “What about this world I live in? What is this?” And the answer we get to that is our doctrine of creation and of general revelation. We ask God, “Tell me about myself. I don’t understand myself or these other people like myself.” And that becomes our doctrine of man or anthropology. “Why am I the way I am?” we ask Him. And what He reveals is the doctrine of sin. “Why and how did you rescue me from death and darkness and bring me into the light?” Our doctrine of salvation.
So when we start to look at all the answers we get in this conversation we’re having with God and begin to relate them, categorize them, and understand how these answers relate to each other, this becomes a systematic theology. It is a systematic development and statement of the answers we’ve received from God. These answers are not just something out there—they are answers about the One we love. All of this results in a theology that is understood personally and that leads us to praise Him. When we learn about this young lady we are falling in love with, what do we do? We tell her how beautiful she is. We tell others that she is the most beautiful woman in the world. We do something similar with God. When we truly know Him and understand Him to be what He actually is, we express our praise to Him for His glory, and we tell others about His praise. Thus, our theology leads inseparably and naturally into doxology—into praise.
Dr. Keith Mathison is professor of Systematic Theology at Reformation Bible College.