Theology – theo meaning having to do with religion, ology meaning the study of something. Theologians are those that study religion. We need not all be theologians, but a Christian should at least know what we believe, and hopefully why we believe it. In this we are lacking.
In his Collapse of Evangelicalism, Michael Spencer says ” massive majorities of evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence.” The next day after reading these words, our school chapel sang Hymn 604 in the Baptist Hymnal, which ends with these words: “And repeat the gospel story ’till his name the world has heard.” We have not done this. It is not surprising that the un-churched do not know how to become a Christian, but church members not knowing how one gets saved is unacceptable.
Spencer expresses the notion that the public face of Christianity has been wrapped up in causes for the past half century. Pro-Life, anti-gay marriage, etc. have been the great causes in our culture war, and preaching/teaching the gospel message has fallen by the way side. “In what must be the most ironic of all possible factors, an evangelical culture that has spent billions of youth ministers, Christian music, Christian publishing and Christian media has produced an entire burgeoning culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology or the experience of spiritual discipline and community.”
Any person should be able to express what he or she believes. A Christian would do well to have some type of systematic theology. If you wish to believe that only Baptist are going to heaven, I want you to show me some Scripture that convinces you of this. If you have been taught that Roman Catholics are not true Christians, show me the verses in the Bible that support this teaching. I could make that argument, but I’m not going to do it for you. The one verse that comes to mind doesn’t trump everything I wrote in Roman Catholic Christians. Whatever you believe needs to have a basis, some substance, in the Word of God to back it up. A beginner Christian may not be expected to know these things, but a person that has been in the faith many years should be growing in grace and wisdom… and wisdom. Paul grew short with what he called babes in Christ whom he could not give meat because they were still on milk. We must mature in our faith and in our understanding of it.
Learn church history. You might start here; but don’t stop there. Read the Apostle’s and Nicean Creed. Read the catechism of the RCC. Research the men who wrote those documents, and the circumstances of their creation. Learn the gospel message well enough to share it with someone else. I’ve written on the gospel more often than anything else. Jesus’ first sermon was to repent and believe the gospel. He commanded at the great commission to take the gospel to the ends of the world. Paul preached that if his listeners learned nothing but Christ and him crucified his ministry would be a success. Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15 says “how beautiful are the feet of him who preach the gospel of peace and bring good tidings.”