Why every Christian needs to be a “theologian” – the discipleship of the mind
by Dominic De Souza
Every Christian must be a theologian! Or to put it another way, the study of theology is indispensable for the believer who is hungry to grow in the things of God.
By “the study of theology”, I’m not necessarily talking about going to Bible College or doing a Theology degree. But I am talking about becoming a diligent student of the Word and Christian doctrine – and that is, and at the very least, knowing what you believe and why you believe it.
Some might think that as long as you have passion for Jesus or are moving in the anointing of the Holy Spirit, that all is well. These are of course crucial components of our Christian walk – and we should seek to cultivate both on a daily basis. But Christianity thrives on intelligence, not ignorance, and it is vitally important to recover the place of theology in our pursuit of God and witness to the world today.
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I believe that the choice between passion for Jesus/ moving in the Spirit and a disciplined mental life rooted in Christian doctrine is a false alternative (cf. Romans 10:2). The only option is both/and, not either/or – for though the Bible talks about child-like faith, it does not talk about childish thinking (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:20). As Christians, therefore, it is important to be both Word and Spirit people (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:5) – our godly pursuit of the Spirit must always be anchored in the Word.
What I’m talking about here is balance. The Bible clearly teaches that emphasis on the mind alone is dangerous: “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). However, Scripture also shows that emphasis on the heart alone is equally perilous: “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9). This suggests that authentic spirituality combines both the mind and the heart – that one without the other will almost certainly lead to a defective Christianity.
But sadly there are scores of Christians today who think that doing theology is a waste of time. Yet what they fail to appreciate is that the Bible is full of exhortations not to neglect the discipleship of the mind…