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May 7, 2014 David Lang

More Important to Know Theology Than the Bible?

My seminary professor had a penchant for shocking his students and challenging their assumptions with outrageous statements. One of the most shocking was this one:

"It is more important to know theology than the Bible."

Now, this was a seminary that stressed the authority of the Bible and the importance of teaching the Bible, so the idea that knowing a particular system of theology was more important than knowing one's Bible seemed absolutely blasphemous. Even more peculiar was the fact that this particular professor taught Biblical studies rather than theology, so why would he, of all people, say such a thing?

Of course, by this time we were familiar with his methods. He would say something shocking like this, let us go through a discussion fueled by outrage and protest, and then explain what he meant in a way that did not seem quite so blasphemous. In this case, he explained that it is more important to know theology than the Bible, because even if you misinterpret or misapply a particular passage of the Bible, you'll still be teaching sound Biblical doctrine.

Over the years I have thought often about my professor's dictum, and I've begun to see the importance of the point he was trying to make.

First, he was cautioning us not to be arrogant in our teaching of the Bible—not to fall into the trap of looking at a particular passage in isolation, coming up with some innovative interpretation, and then throwing out or modifying historic Christian teaching in the light of our new "Biblical" insight. He was reminding us not to despise centuries of work by careful theologians who sought to understand what the entire Bible teaches.

Second, he was reminding his class of mostly future pastors that their congregations need sound doctrine. The temptation of more academically-oriented preachers is to delve into all kinds of obscure and fascinating elements of the Biblical text. Yet their congregations are not seeking advanced degrees in Biblical studies; they're seeking to understand and apply the teaching of the Bible to their lives. My professor wasn't urging pastors to preach through a systematic theology, but to be reminded by the theologians how to communicate the great truths of the Bible.

Sproul-Theologian_120 In his new book, Everyone's a Theologian, R.C. Sproul explains that everyone engages in systematic theology—whether we realize it or not.

Many people believe that theological study holds little value. They say, “I don’t need theology; I just need to know Jesus.” Yet theology is unavoidable for every Christian. It is our attempt to understand the truth that God has revealed to us—something every Christian does. So it is not a question of whether we are going to engage in theology; it is a question of whether our theology is sound or unsound. It is important to study and learn because God has taken great pains to reveal Himself to His people. He gave us a book, one that is not meant to sit on a shelf pressing dried flowers, but to be read, searched, digested, studied, and chiefly to be understood.

Sproul goes on to present a brief overview of systematic theology from a broadly Reformed, evangelical perspective. His summary of each doctrine is quite brief, but it's enough for the busy pastor to brush up on a given theological subject. It's also a great primer for anyone who has never studied theology in a systematic way. Everyone's a Theologian is only $14.99.

While I still don't entirely agree with my professor's dictum that it is more important to know theology than the Bible, I certainly recognize the importance of studying theology. What about you? How has studying theology helped you better understand what the Bible teaches?


 

May 3, 2010 Helen Brown

Watching the News

It's been a busy weekend at Accordance, but unless you watch our news announcements carefully, you might have missed these items:

Pick A Product Coupon: 25% off any one item. The PICKAP coupon code lets our sales staff know that you want to take 25% off the highest priced item in the order. The coupon is good throughout May and can be used twice. This is your best opportunity to get that commentary set or other major item on your wish list. (Temporary sale prices and other discounts cannot be combined with this offer.)

Chafer-cover Chafer-Theology:  the entire original 8 volume set by Louis Sperry Chafer was just released for download for only $139.

Dr. Lewis S. Chafer (1871-1952) was the founding president of Dallas Theological Seminary and its first professor of Systematic Theology. When he completed his massive eight volume Systematic Theology after more than ten years of labor, he produced the first Calvinist, dispensational, pre-millennial and pre-tribulational theology. Chafer’s warm spirituality, his love of the Bible and his devotion to a simple Christian life permeate its pages. The strength of the work lies not in its interaction with scholarly sources, but in its many citations of Scripture and its organization of it into classic theological categories.

Gott-Gen Göttingen Septuagint: It's taken a little longer than we hoped, but the first volume of the series is now available for download. This is the definitive critical edition of the LXX. We plan to release further volumes until we catch up with the ongoing publication of the print edition.

Our modules of the Göttingen LXX include the fully tagged Greek text together with the complete apparatus, available nowhere else in convenient electronic form, a must for every Old Testament scholar.

Genesis is available for $100, or you can order the Pentateuch set for $400.

Please see the Latest News page for full announcements of these items and any others you may have missed.