What is theology? Ask five Christians and you’ll probably get six different answers. When some of us think of theology, there’s a tendency to approach it as something abstract, or belonging to the world of academia that doesn’t really matter in the trenches of life and ministry.
But theology isn’t just writing papers on the minutest implications of an accent on a Greek word that may or may not have any impact on our day-to-day lives. Theology is something entirely different. It matters in every area of life. It is practical.
And that word, practical, is really important. It is a reminder that theology is something lived out. This is why one of my favorite definitions of theology comes from John Frame. He says theology is “the application of the Word of God by persons to all areas of life.”
Here’s what I love about this definition, in a nutshell:
- It reminds us that everything is necessarily theological, from thought to deed;
- It recognizes that we are all theologians; and
- It encourages us to appreciate to remember the Scriptures as the starting point of theology.
I’ve known too many people who fail to recognize these truths. Men and women who’ve rarely given their theology a second thought, largely because they’re not entirely sure it makes a difference. I’ve had too many conversations where the Bible isn’t present, and ideas are grounded in opinions. And I’ve seen too many relationships damaged because of it (sometimes by me).
Those of us who are big fans of theology need to help change this. We don’t need to shove a systematic theology book at someone, necessarily. But what we do need to do is simple—we need to show people a better way. And that begins with living out what we believe. If we believe theology matters, then we need to act on that belief. We need to turn to the Scriptures, again and again, and allow them to correct and shape our theology, applying the Word of God to every area of our lives. Let’s keep showing the world just how eminently practical theology truly is. Because when it’s done right, it really does change everything.