By: Natalie Thomas
I hate starting a dialogue with someone I barely know, but my love for theology pushed me to do just that.
My heart was pounding and my mouth went dry, as I tried to shift the conversation to a place where I could ask my question. I could hardly face the college guy sitting next to me, but I was determined to get what I came for. Finally, I asked, “So… Um… Which books do they have you reading?”
Having read several books on theology geared towards women, I was on the hunt for some that were a little meatier. College guy thought for a moment, and then he generously volunteered three titles that I’d never heard of. He proceeded to clam up after I pushed further and asked for a copy of the reading list that he’d been given. No matter. I thanked him, bolted quickly, bought all three works, came home and binge-read them. Much has changed since the 90’s, but my love for theology still runs strong.
I have a tendency to be more of the exception rather than the rule when it comes to women and theology. Many women shy away from studying theology, even if they are strong in Bible intake. There are many reasons I’ve been given as to why. Among some of the ones I’ve heard are:
- I don’t have the time.
- Theology is boring.
- I read my Bible, isn’t that enough?
- Where would I even start?
However, the most common refrain I hear from women is, “That’s just not my thing! I’m not a theologian.” While I understand what they mean, the truth is that, as we go about our lives, we are all doing theology. Consider the following quote by Graeme Goldsworthy in his book on biblical theology, According to Plan:
“‘All Christians are theologians, but some are more able theologians than others.’ Every Christian by definition knows God, thinks about God, and makes statements about God. So, you are a theologian. Part of being a Christian is that we do theology. That is, we put together different aspects of what we understand about God, and we build it into some kind of coherent understanding of our existence as God’s redeemed people living in the world.”
It’s imperative that we are able theologians, because there are dangers in maintaining a poor view of God. When our theology is off we become subject to our whims and false beliefs. We leave ourselves vulnerable to being hijacked by our emotions and the lies of the enemy. We need a steady diet of the Word of God, as well as resources that expound upon it to ground us in truth and turn our affections towards the One who has redeemed us. This is part of maturing in Christ. Simply put, we need to study theology to grow in our knowledge of God, which fuels our love (obedience) for Him and allows us to grow in service to Him.
From my perspective, most of the women I know possess a desire to know, love and serve Jesus. Where I often see a disconnect is in understanding how theology impacts their everyday lives. My heart is that women know what God says about the things they encounter everyday. The young mom needs an eternal perspective of motherhood when her toddler flings his peas from the high chair for the fifth day in a row. She needs to know her labor has value, so she does not grow weary in doing good. (Galatians 6:9) The single woman needs to know how God views her and the time He has set aside for her to be solely devoted to Him. How can she handle loneliness and temptation? What about the woman who is battling cancer? What does God say about debilitating illness? She won’t always have a body that rebels. She needs to hear that about the coming day when He will wipe away all tears and make all things new. (Revelation 21:4-5)
Having a right view of God is essential for dealing with life’s quandaries, but it’s so much more than that. Women need a high view of God that supersedes all their practical concerns. It’s easy to think that our roles and our problems reign supreme. We tend to default into a man-centered view of life. Help me! Fix this! Provide that! Studying theology can help give a right perspective of who we are and elevate God to His proper place in our hearts. I promise it’s worth the time and effort.
Maybe you agree with the above, but you just need to know where to begin. The year is almost over, and that’s an opportunity for a new start. Many of us will entertain resolutions that we will have punted by Valentine’s Day. I know I will! Seriously, what if we decided to be intentional about our reading the Word of God and theology? May I offer some suggestions?
My first suggestion is that if you currently don’t have a plan to spend time in the Bible every day that you create or find one. There is no substitute for time in Scripture, and there are a number of plans online that will take you through the Bible in a year. Get one!
Second, if you are new to reading theology what if you just committed to reading one book this winter/spring and one next summer/fall? That’s right. I won’t ask the world of you. Just two books! Anyone can read two books in one year, and I would not have you start with Calvin’s Institutes. Below are a list of suggestions that should be doable. Happy reading!
Graeme Goldsworthy’s According to Plan
Wayne Grudem’s Christian Beliefs
Wayne Grudem’s Bible Doctrine
God’s Character and Attributes
J.I. Packer’s Knowing God
A.W. Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy
Arthur Pink’s Attributes of God