There was a time when the term “theology” related solely to issues within the church. Theology was viewed only as a tool to differentiate between denominations or to resolve internal church struggles. However, limiting theology merely to the realm of church-related or scholarly concerns demonstrates forgetfulness regarding the numerous areas of life affected by biblical theology.
Since sound theology helps Christians rightly understand the Word of God, theology should practically influence how we live and interact with the culture. The Christian life is not meant to be lived in a vacuum. Rather, Christians are called to live out their Christian faith in a fallen world. Admittedly, fulfilling this mandate has become increasingly more difficult in a progressively sinful culture. Therefore, it is imperative that the Christian life is rightly shaped by biblical theology. While more benefits could certainly be listed, I will mention two general areas that Christians profit by maintaining a working biblical theology.
First, biblical theology shapes how Christians engage with cultural and worldview issues. We live in a culture that unashamedly celebrates sin on all societal levels. We see this proudly displayed through judicial approval of homosexual marriage, recently passed transgender bathroom laws, and continued funding for abortion syndicates. Over the past few years, Christians have found themselves wondering how our nation arrived at its current state, as well as how Christians should rightly engage these cultural issues. We must always remember that sound theology is essential in addressing and responding to societal woes.
Though specific words such as “transgender” and “abortion” are not explicitly in the Bible, the issues are. A working theology merges biblical passages together to form doctrines (specific understandings) of God’s teachings on certain issues. For instance, to understand the Bible’s view of a moral issue such as abortion, we must consider Scriptural passages that address the importance of human life. Scriptures such as Psalms 139:13-14 (“You formed my inward parts…[You] wove me in my mother’s womb…I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and wonderful are Your works”) and Jeremiah 1:5 (“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you”) give clarity to the Bible’s overall doctrine concerning abortion. Combining related Scriptures form biblical discernment, which aid Christians in working through modern culture wars. Therefore, as Christians address the ever-changing cultural evils, take heart in knowing that a robust biblical theology shapes how we understand and respond to our society.
Secondly and closely tied into addressing the culture, sound theology also helps Christians better discern the character and nature of God. Christians are called to understand biblical theology not just for self-preservation in an increasingly hostile culture, but most importantly for the glorification of God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches that humans are created first to know God, and that “man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” (1647 Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 1). If this is indeed the purpose to life, then biblical theology is a necessary guide in the process of knowing God.
Without theology, the Bible may mistakenly appear to be a random book of helpful sayings, exciting stories, and an assortment of historical information. But with biblical theology, clarity is brought to the inherent unity of the Bible’s teachings about God. Instead of seeing God solely in individual roles – the Creator (Genesis 1), the Good Shepherd (John 10), or the King of Kings (1 Timothy 6) – biblical theology connects every description of God to give a richer, fuller depiction of God and his glory. Ultimately, biblical theology helps Christians see the holistic and robust picture of God portrayed in Scripture.
Therefore, the benefits of biblical theology for the Christian life are impossible to overstate. Biblical theology is essential for Christians both to engage the culture and to know the character and nature of God. As followers of Christ, we would be wise to continually seek theological understanding, knowing that it will shape our lives according to God’s word.