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What Good is Theology?

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Honestly, theology is pretty useless.

There, I said it.

I have wanted to say it since seminary.

Now I’ve said it.

Theology is pretty useless.

Well, let me clarify. Theology that isn’t applied is useless. Doctrine that is aloof and disconnected from the everyday life of the believer is pointless. It is nothing more than a noisy gong.

Paul writes,

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1–3)

I think we can rightly understand “love” here as living out the gospel in real life. Apart from this, we are nothing.

Theology that is trapped in the classroom is useless. Theology that is trapped in the intellect is nothing.

For theology and doctrine to be worth anything they have to be applied and lived out in our lives.

Those of us who are teachers of the Scriptures are teachers of theology too. Our goal is not simply to rightly interpret the Bible. Our goal ultimately is to help the people of God apply it to their lives so that they have a deeper understanding of their identity.

Who we are is shaped by what we believe and what we do. What we do is usually determined by what we believe.

But, if what we believe is simply trapped in our minds then it is nothing.

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. 
(James 1:26–27)

Acta non verba, action not words, a friend is fond of saying.

What good is theology? It’s worthless unless it moves to our hands and feet.

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