Who Needs Theology?
by Paul Hazelden


If the Christian life is all about love, why do we need to bother with doctrine and theology at all?

In summary, we need doctrine, because what we believe determines how we live. If our beliefs are false, the way we live will be wrong. And, of all our beliefs, the most powerful ones are about God.

1.   The Study of God

Theology is, literally, 'God Words' - the study of God. What could be more important?

Over the years, many Christians have told me, one way or another, that they have no interest in, and no need for theology. They certainly have no interest in theology, that is clear.

But no need of theology? You can argue that a bird has no need of aerodynamics: it just flies. But human beings cannot just live - we have to think, to reflect. We have to understand.

People cannot function just as machines, even when they claim to believe that this is all they are. Human life needs to have value and purpose, and the only place where these things can be found is in God.

Modern people tend to reject the early chapters of Genesis. They say it is just a myth, a story that explans where we come from and what we are.

But if we reject Genesis, we need to find another myth. The questions do not just disappear. Where do we come from? If the answer is not "We were created by a God of love," what answer can we give?

People sometimes tell me: "We come from nothing." This may be science. It is certainly theology. The question is - is it good theology?

And what are we? Genesis teaches that we are people, created in the image of a personal God. Throw away Genesis, and what have we left? We are a collection of chemicals and electrical impulses. Where is human identity and personality in this story?

If we discard the teachings of Genesis - if we get our theology wrong - we don't only lose sight of who God is, we lose sight of ourselves. We no longer understand what it means to be human. Without theology, we have neither God nor humanity: only the blind laws of physics, changing matter that comes from nothing and goes nowhere, from one meaningless pattern into another.

2.   The Place of the Mind

There have always been Christians who held strange views about the mind and its place in God's plans. Some people have thought that you can find God and experience salvation simply through reason; others say that because you cannot do this, the mind is therefore unimportant. The traditional Christian view avoids both these extremes.

2a.   Insufficient

The Mind on its own is insufficient:

2b.   Important

We are to worship God with our mind

He wants us to understand Him

2c.   Integrated

The Biblical pattern is to have the mind and heart and soul all working together. They are all needed.

We are to offer God the very best of everything - and that includes the use of our minds as much as the use of our bodies and money.

3.   The Mind in the Bible

3a.   In the Old Testament

Wisdom and understanding

3b.   In the New Testament

In Jesus' teaching, the mind is the source of our behaviour

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Copyright © 2001 Paul Hazelden
http://hazelden.org.uk/pt03/art_pt116_who_needs_theology.htm was last updated 29 August 2006
Page content last modified: 24 October 2001
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