I love theology. Why? Because theology means, “words about God,” and I love God. Everyone – Christian, atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Jew, Hare Krishna, or something else – “does theology,” too, which means understanding theology is both essential to understanding life on earth and a wonderful way to understand each other.
What I mean when I say that everyone “does theology” is that everyone has ideas about God: who He is, how He acts in our world, and what it means for us. If you have any doubts at all about this, read some of George Barna’s research. Barna, president of the marketing research firm Barna Research Group, Ltd, is one of the best sources of sociological data on religion in America; his research consistently shows that every person in America has at least some ideas about God. It also shows that very few (well under half of all adults) have consistent ideas about God.
This is why theology is important, because it’s a bit like driving: everybody does it, but not that many people do it well. Personally, I think that, if our beliefs about God determine our actions and the meaning of our lives, then we ought to try to get it right. Deciding what we believe about God is a bigger decision than what we eat, where we go to college, or even whom we marry, because it affects every other decision in our life. It even affects the range of options available for many of these choices; it may improve our selection by weeding out bad options, or it may lead to choices we will inevitably regret.
For an introduction to theology, I highly recommend J. I. Packer’s Knowing God, C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and anything by Jerry Bridges or John Piper. These are all contemporary writers; Calvin, Augustine, Luther, and Edwards are all wonderful theologians from further back. There are thousands of other works available, of course, but as I said, it’s important to get it right. Never base your theology on your own thoughts alone; somebody else has almost certainly thought of anything you have thought of, and somebody else has probably found a good argument against it. Likewise, you should never base your theology entirely on any other person’s ideas. Really, you should read materials by multiple authors after studying issues from the Scriptures for yourself; in this way, you learn on your own, by reading and studying, then reinforce, challenge, or refine your conclusions by sharpening your mind against others.
If you are seriously interested, try reading some of the materials at the Computer-Assisted Theology site, which has links to hundreds of historical and contemporary works from a variety of perspectives, as well as sermon links. You might also consider a subscription to Bibliotheca Sacra, the oldest journal of theology in America, a publication of Dallas Theological Seminary.
I hope to add to this page in the future. In the meantime, please contact me with any questions or thoughts; I absolutely love to talk about theology or any related issues.