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  • Writer's pictureFraser Buchan

The Value of Theology


Table of Contents Introduction........................................................................................................................................ 1. Smith’s Vision of Theology…....................................................................................................... 1.1. The Nature of Theology............................................................................................................ 1.2. The Goal and Task of Theology................................................................................................ 1.3. The Methods of Theology........................................................................................................ 2. Smith’s Vision vs. Popular Perceptions........................................................................................ 3. Personal Implications of Smith’s Vision....................................................................................... 4. Implications of Smith’s Vision for My Church............................................................................. Conclusion.......................................................................................................................................... Works Cited........................................................................................................................................


Introduction


In this essay, I will discuss the quintessential, “Value of Theology” (Smith 2013). The value we place on the necessity of good and sound doctrine will not only determine the depth and effectiveness in ministry but also in the lives of Christian leaders and the efficiency of churches in general. I would like to bring to your attention the vital importance of the nature of theology, the goal and task of theology, and the various methods of theology to bring about their relevance in modern society (pp. 17-21; 21-39; 39-47). I will also contrast Smith’s vision of theology with modern perceptions and compare the importance of “good theology” with the concept of tithing our learning back to God (Smith 2015; Segal 2015). In essence, the focal point of all “good theology” is to know Him (Phil 3:10; 1 Cor 2:2).

1. Smith’s Vision of Theology

1.1. The Nature of Theology


According to Smith (2013:17), theology, is “a word about God”. Therefore, theology is based around the logos word which enables the student or disciple of Christ to have a comprehensive understanding of the various gradations regarding the study of God. However, we cannot make God an object of human study. Smith correctly asserts that the individual can only know God through two avenues, namely, divine revelation and people’s faith.


Scripture confirms in numerous places throughout the Old and New Testaments that God reveals Himself through, “God-breathed” revelation. The Bible goes on to teach that all scripture is “God-breathed” and useful in bringing the individual to a place of maturity in God (1 Tim 3:16). Scripture emphatically goes on to reveal that God spoke in times past through appointed prophets but in these last days has given His full and final revelation to man through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1-2). From the Christians’ viewpoint, the scriptures are God’s final authority on all revelation that has been entrusted to man (Smith 2013:18).


Smith (2013:19) makes the vital assessment of including the study of people’s faith that have gone before us. It is imperative to contextually understand the origins of church history and the churches' long-standing traditions, in so far as to thoughtfully consider why they believed and acted out their faith in a certain way (1 Cor 11:1). At the same time remaining relevant in “practical theology” toward a post-modern society. This is of the utmost importance to the furtherment of the Kingdom. However, God’s divine revelation which has been revealed through the scriptures remains God’s primary source of communication with man (Smith 2013:20).

1.2. The Goal and Task of Theology


The ultimate goal of theology is to know Him (Smith 2013:21). Part of the goal of theology is to also know what God requires of us in reaching this generation by living out our Christianity in a proper biblical context. Faithfully applying this kind of theology aids in living out His nature and purposes authentically before a lost world (p. 22). All of scripture points us in this direction (Jn 17:3).


Smith (2013:23) explains, “Theology is relational and doxological”. The task of being “God-focused” is the aim of all those that come after Him. It is only in a position of completely focusing on God that we can love, understand, obey, and glorify Him through our lives. It is through the process of focusing on God that enables us to remain vibrantly faithful and in love with God (Ps 119:2; Is 26:3).


One of the main tasks of theology is to dialogue with the Holy Spirit (Smith 2013:29). Sound communication with the Holy Spirit is essentially important if we are to align ourselves with the revelation of truth. It is through this avenue that we can know His thoughts, purposes, and plans (Jn 14:16-17; 16:13).


Smith (2013:30) maintains that, “All theology is deeply missional”. The task of taking the Gospel to the nations is the second overarching theme in the New Covenant only behind the unifying person of the Lord Jesus Himself. Being mission-minded helps us to focus on being faithful to the task of reaching this world with the Gospel (p. 31). All of theology is intertwined with the missional mandate and priority of God in seeing mankind saved (Matt 28:19-20; Jn 3:16).

1.3. The Methods of Theology


Smith (2013:39-40) states, “We do theology by thinking and speaking about God’s word and our faith”. Principally, theology is accomplished through four different facets: interpretation, evaluation, discussion, and comparison. I believe this to be a correct statement as it lines up with 1 Corinthians 2:13.


“Theology is hermeneutical" (Smith 2013:46). It is the practice of interpreting the word of God. It includes the way we interpret everything within the scope of Christendom. We must never claim infallibility in our approach to studying theology. Theological assumptions may be flawed (Rom 3:23).


Critical theology, is to carefully re-examine and re-evaluate Christian texts, beliefs, and practices (Smith 2013:41). It permits us to critically appraise those that have paved the way through embracing the authority of the Bible. To critically evaluate means that we test everything to see if it corresponds with the integrity of the scriptures (Phil 4:8).


Smith (2013:42) claims theology is a discussion between other Christian theologians. As we fellowship with one another around God’s word, it has the potential to create opportunities that can enhance our comprehension of scripture. I believe this to be a verifiable statement based on God being dialogical with Judah and Jerusalem (Is 1:18). Writing and interacting with other Christians and various resources can help us formulate God’s will in our context (Smith 2013:43).


According to Smith (2013:44-45), we do theology by finding a correlation between things such as texts, trends, theories, actions, and a whole plethora of other examples. In essence, theology is about the relationship of comparing things, to come to a profitable conclusion. A synergy between the word and world is paramount in becoming correctly correlational (1 Cor 15:46).


2. Smith’s Vision vs. Popular Perceptions


Smith’s vision of theology maintains that it should be one of power that adds biblical value to the individual (2015). He asserts that “good theology” should be by nature practical in application, taught by Christians who are devoted to God. He upholds the idea that “good theology” is rooted in hunger to know and obey God. His assessment of theology is correct as it lines up with what Jesus taught in His famous sermon on the mount (Matt 5:6).


Smith’s theology is rooted in living out one’s Christianity daily (2013:16). He emphasizes that each Christian leader is a theologian by implication of his ministerial actions. Smith poetically states, “Every act of ministry translates his theology into practice”. The words of Jesus Himself validate Smith's powerful statement on the value of good actions which translates into good theology (Luke 6:46).


Contrasting Smith’s vision of theology with popular perceptions is vastly different (2015). He maintains that “good theology” has no value in the eyes of those who are outside the church. This is a verifiable statement that is corroborated by scripture (Ps 14:1). Unfortunately, many liberal scholars place very little value on authoritative biblical doctrine (Smith 2015). Smith asserts that liberal theology is so academic and non-concrete that it bears no tangible biblical results. Smith terms this “bad theology”. Scripture affirms that the perception of many within Christendom will not implement sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:3).

3. Personal Implications of Smith’s Vision


Smith's findings have provoked me to evaluate my personal theology before God (2015). I am fully committed to becoming a skilled theologian who has been equipped for every good work (1 Cor 3:10; 2 Tim 3:16-17). I desire that my understanding of “good theology” be firmly rooted in the power of the Kingdom. The Apostle Paul affirms, “For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power” (1 Cor 4:20 NKJV). This challenge is equally connected to my life’s goal of living out my daily theology just as Jesus did when He walked the earth (1 Jn 2:6).


One of the most important daily implications I would personally like to implement in Smith’s vision of theology is to be in a constant state of hunger after righteousness before the Lord (2015). It is only out of a place of hungering and thirsting after Jesus that one can be continually filled with the understanding of the word and the Holy Spirit (Ps 81:10; Jn 7:37-39). This will ultimately lead me into a place of obedience before the Lord (Smith 2015). A righteous hunger before heaven should always lead a sincere Christian to obey the commands and mandate of God (Jn 14:15; 2 Jn 1:6).

4. Implications of Smith’s Vision for My Church


If I were to implement Smith’s understanding and vision of theology in my church, we would witness a vibrant community being built, living out an active faith in reliance and sincere love for God (2013:23). An in-depth understanding of the different nuances of good theology would greatly aid in the equipping of many for holistic church leadership (p. 38). This would create a superstructure for the Holy Spirit to move and work within a framework of biblical clarity (1 Cor 3:9-11).


Segal writes, “Good theology is the only path to God” (2015). To maintain a vibrant and healthy church, each member needs to be taught how to love theology. It is through loving good theology that we come to know Christ relationally. Segal reasserts that without theology you cannot have a relationship with God. He believes that individuals should “tithe” their theology back to God. I believe if implemented throughout the church, I would witness tremendous spiritual growth which is confirmed in Hebrews 5:12-14.

Conclusion


The value of theology is quintessential for knowing God. It is only through good theological practices that you can deepen your relationship with Christ. Theology practiced correctly will organically build holistic effectiveness into ministry and the whole of the collective church. Theology aids in understanding God’s divine revelation to man and people’s faith toward Him. It helps us reach this generation in a structured biblical context. Theology can be methodically applied to the benefit of individual and corporate spiritual growth. In essence, well-practiced theology has the potential of empowering us into the meaning of Christianity: to know Him.


Works Cited

New King James Version. 1982. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson


Segal M 2015. ‘You Cannot Serve both God and Theology.’ Desiring God. Online article.

Accessed from www.desiringgod.org/articles/you-cannot-serve-both-god-and-theology,

2015-02-6.


Smith KG 2013. ‘Introduction to Theology.’ Chapter 1 in Integrated Theology: Discerning

God’s Will in Our World. Johannesburg: SATS Press.


Smith KG 2015. ‘Sceptics on the Value of Theology.’ Johannesburg: South African

Theological Seminary.

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