Is Theology for Me? By Nancy Vandemark

I have a friend who presented a seminar on theology at a recent convention. I told him he might have a smaller number of attendees as the attendance of the overall convention was down from years past. He said he was used to low attendance because people tend to turn away from the topic of theology.

I can relate to that. When I first started hearing terms like, hermeneutics, exegesis, eisegesis and didactic, my eyes tended to glaze over. It’s all Greek to me. (Pun intended).

Carolyn Custis James gives three main reasons women avoid theology in her book When Life and Beliefs Collide.

  • Theology is for men.
  • Theology is bad for the soul.
  • Theology is for professionals.

She speaks of a minister’s wife who “had taught numerous women’s Bible classes but stopped because she was concerned that some women were beginning to get ahead of their husbands… She believed a woman with too much knowledge might upset the spiritual balance at home.” If we think about this we can see why it does not make sense. A woman is to be a helpmate to her husband. How can she do that if she does not know God and his Word? I think of how both Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos “the way of God more adequately, Acts 18:26”. If Aquila knew everything Priscilla knew and more, there would have been no need for her to be in on the teaching of Apollos.

Carolyn Custis James quoted J.I. Packer, in his younger years, having said, “Theology is bad for one’s soul”.* (He, of course, changed his mind.) I am sure we have all seen examples of people who know the Bible well, only to be prideful because of their knowledge. They let the knowledge become so important in their lives; they lose their compassion for people.

The definition of theology is “the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; esp.: the study of God and of God’s relation to the world.” ** (Emphasis mine.)

Do we have to be scholars with advanced degrees to do this? Dallas Willard wrote, “The Bible is, after all, God’s gift to the world through his church, not to the scholars. It comes through the life of his people and nourishes that life. Its purpose is practical, not academic. An intelligent, careful, intensive but straightforward reading – that is, one not governed by obscure and faddish theories or by a mindless orthodoxy – is what it requires to direct us into life in God’s kingdom.”***

To have a relationship with God, we must spend time getting to know who he is.

So where do we begin? If you did well in reading and literature, you will probably do well in studying the Bible. That was not exactly my strong point. Living by the Book – The Art and Science of Reading the Bible by Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks enhanced my studies.

I encourage each of you to spend more time, as Mary did, sitting at the feet of Jesus.


*Taken from: Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief by Bruce Milne
**Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition.
*** The Portable Seminary General Editor David Horton. Taken from: The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard.


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