Does Theology Matter?
There is a danger when talking about theology. That danger is to think of it as a purely theoretical exercise. To understand theology or doctrine as solely a device that is used to communicate information misses the whole point of theology. Now, it is true that doctrine does give facts that need to be memorized and studied deeply, however, we miss the mark if that is all we think doctrine does. You see, what sets the Christian apart from all others in the world is not solely the content of the faith but how that faith is appropriated. It is doctrine that gives us a grid through which to interpret life. To morph Calvin's analogy a bit, doctrine functions as a spectacle through which we read life.
Doctrine teaches us in the midst of life how we are to act and react to all that comes down our path. How does it do this? Well, it teaches us by directing us to see all things as part of God's providential plan (Eph 1:9-10) and his purposes (Rom 8:28). It is through reading life's events in light of our doctrine, particularly the eschatological reality that the climax of history is God's reign on Earth as in Heaven, that our doctrine teaches (even when things are difficult) how to read the story in front us.
It is this truth, that doctrine is really the stuff of life, and because of that, that doctrine is always practical that excites me about studying systematic theology for three years. For three years, I will be able to explore the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God (Rom 11:33). If I am not a better husband, father, pastor, friend, Christian after spending three years studying doctrine, then I have missed the whole point of study. In the midst of the good, the bad, and the ugly of life, and at times when there does not seem to be an easy answer or the clearest road, it is sound doctrine that teaches me to make the next right choice. It is good theology that keeps my head on straight.
Does theology matter? It is a life and death discipline. Theology turns us back to our Lord in faith asking him to give us the grace for the journey.