Stop Making Excuses for Studying Hard Theology
One of the most beautiful aspects of the Gospel is that it is easy to understand. It is so simple that small children can understand the Gospel and their need for this good news to be applied to them. Yes, the Gospel is simple, but not all aspects of Christianity are so simple. Some aspects of Christianity are far more difficult to understand than others. Just try to fully grasp the eternality of God, it’s impossible to fathom. There are many theological subjects that are similarly difficult to discern or as the 1689 Baptist Confession states, "All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all..." These would include topics like election, the kingdom, and eschatology among others. So what are we to do about these hard subjects? Many Christians make excuses so that they need not come to a conclusion on these difficult subjects. Here are 5 common excuses I hear about studying the hard parts of theology.
It’s too theological for me.
Many Christians have not been to Bible college or seminary. They do not know Greek or Hebrew. They have their Bible and maybe a few books from their favorite theologian. Yet, this does not excuse them from studying their Bible and coming a solid (and orthodox) conclusion on these difficult subjects. God has entrusted you with His revelation, you have a responsibility to know it as best as you are capable. Beyond this responsibility, God has given you the Holy Spirit who guides you into truth. Nothing is too theological for you. Study hard and study deeply so that you may have a clear conscience, having been a faithful steward with what God has entrusted to you.
Smarter Christians than I have tried.
While Christians should always remain humble, they should not be intimidated by those who came before them. Yes, Luther and Augustine were brilliant, but that does not mean that they could not be wrong. They were just as fallible as you are now. While we should not be hasty to throw out their conclusions, we must not let them dictate our own or stop us from studying deeper into a certain subject. Just because an intelligent Christian studied that subject does not mean that intelligent Christian was right or that he cornered the market on that subject. You must study to come to a conclusion yourself, using the tools at your disposal including the historical beliefs of saints that came before you.
it’s not essential, so what’s the point?
Many Christians would say that studying election is not necessary since it won’t affect your salvation, but just because it will not affect your own salvation does not mean it won’t affect someone else’s salvation. Your understanding of election can greatly impact how you evangelize or understand how Christ draws sinners to repentance. Your understanding of the end times will not change your standing before God, but this does not mean that we ignore this subject altogether. This foolish excuse says that one should only study that which they already know. While one should always be expanding their knowledge of essential truths, dismissing theological horizons is just lazy.
I don’t have time to study that.
Yes, you do. You know you do. Think of all the time wasted on your phone looking at the same memes you saw four minutes ago. Think about the tv shows you’ve watched again and again. You have time. The question is will you sacrifice other things in order to dig deep into these subjects and worship God through meditating on His Word?
Good Christians have differed so it can’t be conclusive.
This excuse stands out as the most presumptuous of all these excuses. This excuse says that because good Christians have stood on both sides of an argument that surely I cannot come to a solid conclusion. This excuse assumes that both are right enough because both Christians are good Christians, but good Christians can be wrong. This excuse says that being correct is unattainable simply because others have tried. While good Christians have differed, you still have a responsibility to come to your own conclusion.
Stop making excuses for studying theology. Christian, you have been entrusted with a Word more sure than prophecy according to Peter, you have a God-given responsibility to understand this Word. Don’t listen to your sinful nature that tells you it is too hard or too lofty for you. Try. Just try and perhaps you will understand your God a little better by studying the hard parts of Scripture.