By Mark Walz
Is it beneficial to talk about God and theology, or is it merely a giver of knowledge that puffs up? I have heard it before that this sort of thing (getting too much into theology and Christian doctrine) can only lead to pride and an attitude focused on knowledge but unconcerned with holiness. ‘Just give me Jesus,’ one might say. However, I believe there is a place for musing upon theology — the things of God — that can lead to holiness and a deeper faith. It all, you might say, depends on your motive.
Ji Packer in his book, Knowing God, cautions that it is motive behind the study that can shipwreck our journey from ever getting closer to God. Studying theology can lead us to God, or it can lead us away into pride and conceit. He writes, “The question concerns our own motives and intentions as students. We need to ask ourselves: What is my ultimate aim and object in occupying my mind with these things?… (For) the very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it” (Packer, Knowing God p 21). Do we intend to gain a better understanding of God that we might love and serve him better, or is there a more selfish desire behind it? This is the question we must ask.
That being said, if our desire is to love and serve God better, then a greater understanding of Him will cause us to do exactly that. Take this passage from Lamentations into consideration:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22–23, ESV)
Notice how the poet moves from talking about God to talking to God. The pursuit of knowledge and the musing upon this knowledge actually leads the author into the presence of his subject. God shows up in a real way, moving from third person to a person in the room. For me, this shows that there is no danger in reading and studying more if my motive is to know and encounter Him better. As with much in Christianity, there is no way to over do it; there is only ways to do it wrongly, to do it sinfully.
So pursue knowledge of God. For in it you will also find Him.