Does theology matter? If you listen to some people, you would have to say, “No!”
For example, a few weeks ago I was talking with a friend who is taking some classes in theology. He told me how excited he was in his studies. He also told me that he shared his excitement with a friend of his. His friend commented positively, but then said, “But really, in the grand scheme of things, what does all that matter? In our everyday lives, what good is theology?”
My friend was telling me this to make the point that theology is okay for theologians, philosophers, and academicians. But for the common man, living in the real world, it has no value.
He went on to tell me that talking with this man reminded him of a time in this person’s life when he was really struggling. He was going through a period of great hurt, much suffering. What kept him going? What encouraged him to not quit? It wasn’t theology. It was the love, support and caring concern of Christian friends around him. Obviously, theology is a good thing—but what value does it have in the “real world” in everyday life? Implicit answer: None.
Whoa! Back up a minute. I couldn’t disagree more. Theology and Christian doctrine are not esoteric studies for a few scholars in some academic lofty towers. They are the very stuff of “real life.” Let me give you a prime example…
Let’s look again at this man who went through such a challenging period in his life. What kept him going? Love. The love of the saints.
But wait a minute, where does love come from? There is a simple answer: “Love comes from God” (1 John 4:7 NIV) and “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NIV). Love originates with God. It comes from God. It comes from Him because He IS love (1 John 4:16).
And that is the point. The Christian faith teaches us that God is love. This is a distinctive statement about our God. Islam doesn’t teach this. Hinduism doesn’t teach this. Buddhism doesn’t teach this. Only Christianity teaches that God is love; that it is an essential feature of His very Being.
Why is this true? How can Christians say that God is love? Even religions that emphasis love and compassion (e.g., Buddhism) do not say that God is love. Why? Again, the answer is simple. Our God is triune in nature. In the oneness of His being He exists a trinity of three divine Persons. And these three Persons have existed in a loving relationship for all eternity. No solitary being could be called “love.” You cannot say Allah is love. He exists alone, solitary, by himself. Love requires an object. Only a multi-personal deity can love, and exist as love itself. Only of the Triune God can it be said that “God is love.”
Look again at the last couple of paragraphs. What have we been discussing? Theology! (Oh, no! Not that!) See what I mean, theology is extremely practical. That very love that encouraged and helped that man in his suffering could only exist because of the triune God. No Trinity, no God who is love. No divine love, NO love at all. Love only exists at all because of the Triune Deity. And we can only understand, appreciate and fully practice this love if we know and understand Him. And that, my friend, is theology.