Friday, April 23, 2010

"The Importance of Not Studying Theology"

The Gospel Coalition regularly posts a journal of evangelical theology called Themelios. In this issue, Carl Trueman writes a helpful corrective to the tendency to become overly absorbed by theological study for its own sake:

But this is not the whole story. One of the great problems with the study of theology is how quickly it can become the study of theology, rather than the study of theology, that becomes the point. We are all no doubt familiar with the secular mindset which repudiates any notion of certainty in thought; and one of the reasons for this, I suspect, is that intellectual inquiry is rather like trying to get a date with the attractive girl across the road with whom you have secretly fallen in love: the thrill comes more from the chase and the sense of anticipation than it does from actually finding the answer or eliciting agreement to go to the movies.

This plays out in theology in two ways. First and most obvious, there is a basic question of motivation which needs to be addressed right at the start of theological endeavor: am I doing this purely and simply for personal satisfaction? Has the study of theology become so central to my identity that the whole of my being is focused on it and seeks to derive things from it in a way which is simply unhealthy and distorts both its purpose and the person who I am? That is something with which all theologians will, I suspect, wrestle until the day they die, being part and parcel of who we are as fallen creatures; but there are also things we can do which ease the situation.

The whole thing is well worth your time, especially if you're someone who spends any amount of time studying theology.

1 comment:

  1. It is so interesting to me to read articles like this, because, despite being intellectual, I am so *not* a part of this intellectual world. Becoming obsessed with theology for identity, personal satisfaction, etc. is a curious thing...but I'd say it's the flipside of relying on emotions for identity, personal satisfaction, etc.


Got some thoughts? Fire away. Please be polite, thoughtful, and kind! Please provide your name and, if applicable, website. Anonymous comments, along with all forms of spam, trolling, and personal attacks, will be deleted.