Theology (the study of God) is an interesting discipline. Christians are often divided over the importance and necessity of theology for the everyday follower of Christ. Some think that theology really only matters to professional theologians, pastors, or those who desire to become pastors. This mindset inevitably leads to casting aside theology as an aspect of the Christian life that can be left to the professionals. Theologians, pastors, and elders maintain that theology should be studied by all Christians. The reason is simple: Everyone is a theologian.
“So the question is not whether or not you’re going to be a theologian, but what kind of theologian you’re going to be. Will you be a good theologian or a bad one, a consistent theologian or an inconsistent one, a systematic theologian or a haphazard one?”Lawrence, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church, 101.
Reading and studying theology helps us to better know and love God — or at least it should. As we become more acquainted with theological nuances, we understand why particular doctrines matter for our daily life. However, failing to connect doctrine with application to daily life is one of the greatest hinderances to theological study. Application drives our perception of importance. When we struggle to see how a particular doctrine shapes our lives, we also struggle to see why it is important. Connecting doctrine to daily life is a driving motivation for A Standard for Living. We want theology and doctrine to be understood as applicable to life and, thus, important for studying.
As we embark on this endeavor, a couple of things need to be clarified. First, all of the contributors to this blog are confessionally reformed elders (teaching or ruling elders). Let me explain what we mean by confessional and reformed.
Confessional simply means we hold to one of the Protestant confessions as being faithful summaries of the doctrines found in Scripture. As elders in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (RPCNA), the specific confession we hold dear is the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) along with the Shorter (WSC) and Larger Catechisms (WLC). Being confessionally reformed does not mean that we place our confessional standards above Scripture as having authority over Scripture. Scripture is the sole infallible rule of faith and life for the Christian. Confessionally reformed folks view confessions as accurate summaries of the teachings of Scripture that remain subservient to Scripture.
The term “Reformed” means we identify with the principles set forth during the Reformation of the 16th century, and that we hold to one of the confessional standards that arose from those principles.
Second, having clarified where we are coming from, one question still remains: Why another theology blog? There are many blogs dealing with doctrine and there are also many dealing with the Christian life. Our aim at A Standard for Living is bringing both theology and practice together into one place. A proper understanding of theology should spur us on to living out that theology. Theology changes it’s student. The goal of theological study should always be to glorify God by loving Him and doing what He commands. Glorifying God requires knowing Him, and this knowledge comes from study.
John Calvin said at the beginning of His Institutes of the Christian Religion,
“Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”Institutes of the Christian Religion, 35
So then we could say that theology helps us better know ourselves as well as better know God. With this truth in mind, journey with us as we seek to know God and ourselves better in order that we may faithfully love and serve Him. Share in our love for the science of theology as we explain and apply the precious doctrines that God Himself revealed to us in the Bible.
To put it another way, we engage in theology everyday. Every time we open our Bible to read and meditate upon what God has revealed, we engage in theology. The Westminster Shorter Catechism identifies theology as one of the two principal things taught by Scripture.
Q. 3 What do the Scriptures principally teach? The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God [theology] and what duty God requires of man.WSC 3. Emphasis added.
The Westminster Assembly that produced the Shorter Catechism understood theology and application to be so closely linked that properly grasping the teaching of Holy Scripture requires these two elements. Accordingly, our aim is to assist the church at large in regaining an appreciation and love for theology as we demonstrate how our lives are shaped by it.