If you read Austin Johnson’s blog post last week, you will have a pretty good idea of my story... minus the doula and love of childbirth part. The tugs at my heart have led me to Grace College and Seminary to work toward a Master’s degree in Ministry Studies. In just a few weeks, I will be at the halfway point of my program. Although I am learning so much in my classes, one of the most important lessons I have learned has come from beyond the required coursework.
At this point in my studies, I have had five different professors. Their areas of study include theology, Old Testament, New Testament, prayer, and women’s ministry. Each of these men and women have distinct personalities that seem to go right along with their areas of specialization. I would describe them as knowledgeable, smart, gracious, and practical. Then there was my theology professor. He was TOUGH! When I first laid eyes on the 13-page syllabus, I knew I was in for quite a ride. From time to time, he would almost crack a joke, but for the most part he was all business. After surviving back-to-back theology courses with this professor, I began to really appreciate who he was and the role God had given him.
Theology is defined as the study of the nature of God and religious belief. The two courses I took were considered systematic theology. Basically, systematic theology is finding out what the whole Bible says about a given topic such as the trinity, sin, salvation, the church, and the future. Many people think of theology as an academic exercise for the super intelligent and not very practical. However, theology has a very practical purpose for our everyday lives.
When Life and Beliefs Collide: How Knowing God Makes a Difference by Carolyn Custis James speaks to the importance of women engaging in theology. Actually, we are all theologians to some extent because we all hold certain beliefs about God. But are those beliefs true? We need to believe true things about God. Studying theology is about knowing our God so that we can live more fully for him. Carolyn Custis James says, “Knowing God keeps us focused on what really matters, helps us steer a steady course through troubled waters, and equips us to minister to others.” At the end of this post you will find a few recommended theology resources.
As for my theology professor, I am so very thankful for the role that he plays in the body of Christ. I like to think of him as a watchdog. The Bible is under attack in the world of academics and in popular culture. My professor along with other godly men and women who have devoted their lives to academic theology are on the front lines of this battle. When claims are made against the Bible, they are the ones who must respond. This is no small task. Of course, these men and women are not exempt from living out their theology. In their jobs and at home, their theology should inform every aspect of their lives.
Check out these books to dive deeper into theology:
Lost Women of the Bible: The Women We Thought We Knew by Carolyn Custis James-If you’re nervous about diving into theology, this would be a great place to start. Each chapter focuses on a different woman of the Bible. These are women we are all familiar with... or so we thought. See theology in action in the lives of Biblical women.
When Life and Beliefs Collide: How Knowing God Makes A Difference by Carolyn Custis James-This book reveals why we need to know theology and points out some of the obstacles that often stand in our way.
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem-This book looks intimidating, but is written for a general audience. It is easy to skip around and learn about different topics as needed.
The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer-A classic about knowing God more deeply.