By Leanne Waters
I remember having dinner with a friend awhile back and towards the end of the evening, after discussing faith-related matters, she expressed to me (in more or less words) that she was wary of diving too deep into theological matters of doctrine and the Bible for fear of losing the “heart” behind her faith in Christ. I questioned her statement then and I still often think about that conversation now. The sentiment she was getting at was that spending too much time on deep theological discussions or issues of doctrine can be a hindrance to fully experiencing the deep emotional and loving aspect of our relationships with Christ.
Unfortunately, my friend’s sentiment seems to be all too common among Christian women today. There is this belief out there in the evangelical Christian world that theology hinders devotion to Christ. With a huge influx of Bible studies and books for women that are full of shallow and self-focused topics, preachers who fail at equipping their congregants with theological truths from the pulpit each week and instead offer a weekly pep-talk, and the perpetuated idea that theology is a “man’s world”—we shouldn’t be surprised women might feel this way.
Regardless of where the idea stems from, I happen to be staunchly opposed to it. A love for good theology, no matter one’s gender, is not only good, but I would argue is absolutely necessary to the Christian’s life. We cannot worship God intimately (with heart and emotion) if we do not know Him accurately.
The term “theology” comes from two Greek words: theos (“God”) and logos (“word”). When the two words are combined, it gives us a basic definition of theology which is, the study of God as He is revealed in His Word. While our minds are finite and we’ll never be able to fully understand everything there is to know about God (Rom. 11:33-36), it is still good for Christians to seek to understand all that we can about Him by immersing ourselves in the Bible. While there are countless theological books written by great authors to help us understand and know God, the Bible should always be our first resource to turn to and those books should always find themselves in submission to Scripture.
Given that the chief end of man is to glorify God (Ps. 100:2-3), and knowing that we can’t truly glorify Him if we don’t accurately know Him, I’m going to suggest three reasons why it’s absolutely necessary for women to study theology and why we should make it a regular practice in our relationship with Christ in order to deepen our love for Him.
Reason #1: Theology is part of the Greatest Commandment
In Matthew 22 the Pharisees come to Jesus in order to “test” him and they ask him what the greatest commandment is. Jesus responds to them in verses 37-40 and says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” (emphasis added is my own)
Here we are told by Jesus that part of the greatest commandment is to not only love the Lord with all your heart and soul, but also with your mind. Far too often, especially when it comes to women, we separate these three categories into compartments that don’t overlap—sometimes into compartments that we never use. When in reality, they should all be interconnected.
Women tend to be, in most cases, the more emotional of the two sexes. This is by God’s perfect design. Women are gifted with emotional capacities that allow them to serve in roles in the local body of believers, their homes, or in their community in empathetic and loving ways. There is absolutely nothing wrong (when used properly and in submission to God) with the fact that women have a stronger emotional capacity. Please understand me and know that I’m not suggesting loving the Lord with your emotions (or your heart and soul as put in Matthew 22:37) is wrong. The problem is when we women tend to elevate the heart over the mind or neglect the mind altogether. When this happens, we are breaking part of the greatest commandment.
I don’t know if women are believing a lie that says we just aren’t capable of loving the Lord with our minds or if we just don’t know how to do it? Regardless of what it is, we must pursue this aspect of our relationship with our Lord. Just as we are “students” of those we love in our own lives (husbands, children, friends) so that we can enjoy them and tell others about them, we must also become students of Christ so that we can fully enjoy Him and tell others about Him.
Reason #2: Theology keeps us from deception
If we know that theology is the study of God as He is revealed in His Word, then we must conclude that close and accurate study of God’s Word would naturally keep us from deception. We can’t be easily fooled if we are intimately aware of who our Savior is.
We know from Scripture that believers can be deceived for a time. Paul wrote to deceived believers when he wrote his letter to the Galatian church. He said, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (3:1) Paul knew they were believers but they had allowed false teachers to creep in and manipulate the Gospel. False teachers with false gospel messages still operate the same way today. They creep into local bodies or prominent Christian communities because they look, act, and sound like us. If this is the case, how then can we be absolutely sure that we’re not believing lies and being deceived? Good theology. The only way we can be discerning enough to pick up when a false teacher slightly twists Scripture (just enough to make it false) is if we intimately know God through the Bible.
Sadly, too many women today are “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14).
Reason #3: Theology helps us fulfill our God-given roles
Women are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and because of that we are inherently valuable to Him and we stand as equals next to our male counterparts. However, having a proper theology allows us to understand that while we are equal to man in the eyes of God, we have a unique and different role to play in the body of Christ and within our own personal lives.
Poor theology among women and our teachers today has led to immense confusion about the roles women have in the church and the home. We see women pastoring churches, (against the elder qualifications found in Titus 1 & 1 Tim. 3), exercising authority over men (1 Tim. 2:12), leading in the home (Eph. 5:22-33), and confusion about where to serve in the church (Titus 2:3-5).
The cultural narrative today (that sadly has dictated the church too) says that in order for women to truly be who they are and to feel empowered, that they must usurp these archaic, patriarchal norms and reject what the church and the Bible has traditionally taught for over 2,000 years. While women may feel “liberated” in doing this, ultimately it leads to outright rebellion against God and devastation to them and their local church body. Having a proper knowledge and understanding of our Lord (especially when we understand that our roles as women reflect the perfect union in the Trinity—1 Cor. 11:3) and the unique roles He’s given us in Scripture, we can be sure to avoid such devastation.
In fact, a woman who is a true follower of Christ, who has sweetly submitted herself to the service of her Lord, will never feel as if she is being oppressed in the God-ordained roles He has lovingly given her in Scripture. In these roles, women thrive! They are able to be the helpmates (Gen. 2:18) to their husbands that they are called to be, they are able to raise and and nurture their children the way God calls for children to be raised (Eph. 6:1-4), and they are able to serve in their local body in a way that edifies and equips the next generation of women and children (Titus 2:3-5).
The world may tell women to live a certain way in order to be fulfilled, but the women who intimately know God based on a proper theology of Him, will never fall for the lies of the world and will instead stand firm in their God-given roles.
Links to Leanne’s Content:
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