3 Reason to Read Theology (and Where to Start)

An-Open-Letter-to-Christian-TheologiansTheology has a bad reputation amongst Christians. While it’s a respected field, it also can seem like an impenetrable field reserved only elite scholars.

But Karl Barth once said that, “In the church of Jesus Christ there can and should be no non-theologians.” 

We’re all called to practice theology. Theology is not for the elite. So here are three reasons why you should read theology:

1. Theology is Worship

Jesus said to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.” (See Luke 10:27.) Theology is an act of worship.

As we disciple our minds and seek the truth we worship God because we place value on God. We apply “worth” to Him.

For me theology is one of the most devotional and personal forms of worship. To say that theology is not for you is to deny God your mind. God desires your intellect, and desires your intellectual pursuit of Him. Worship God with your mind! This is the essence of theology.

2. Theology is Challenging

Theology, as an intellectual pursuit, is a challenging pursuit. It requires you to wrestle with your ideas and beliefs. It puts stress on what you thought you once knew, testing everything. It’s challenging to welcome new ideas you’ve never thought into your world view. But it’s worth it.

Theology is hard. It is a discipline of the intellect. It will change the way you see the world, yourself, and your relation to God. But what good is your world view if it cannot stand up to a good shaking?

As theology challenges you, it grows you.

3. Theology is Practical

Theology is not just abstract thought games. Theology is practical. It has to power to change your life.

It may appear like a senseless act of repetition and detail, but don’t lose heart. Any journey into theology will eventually lead back to your every day life.

I began the journey to study theology about four years ago. It’s not been easy, and it still isn’t. It can be confusing, and disheartening. But at the end of the day I can say with certainty that studying theology has changed my life. It’s because there is some intrinsic power in theology itself. But because, like Jacob, wrestling with God is sometimes necessary. You may leave with a limp, but you’ll leave blessed. (See Gen 32:22-32)

Where to Start?

So where should you begin your journey? My favorite theologians are Karl Barth, Jurgen Moltmann, Thomas F Torrance, James B Torrance, C Baxter Kruger, and the early church fathers Athanasius and Ireneaus. From these theologians here are some good books to begin with, and where to go from there.


For Beginners:
Jesus and the Undoing of Adam, and The Shack Revisited by C. Baxter Kruger

Jesus Christ for Today’s World, and In the End—the Beginning by  Jurgen Moltmann

Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace by James B Torrance

On the Incarnation by Athanasius

Against Heresies book III by Ireneaus

Dogmatics in Outline, and Evangelical Theology by Karl Barth

Next Steps: 

The Mediation of Christ, and Christian Doctrine of God by Thomas F Torrance

Church Dogmatics II/2 and IV/1 by Karl Barth

The Trinity and the Kingdom and The Crucified God by Jurgen Moltmann

For more recommendations, check out 68 Books I Recommend

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