Attributes of a Good Theologian

Tonight I was working with a guy who just started working with us. He also was just offered a job working elsewhere so he’ll be leaving soon. As we were working I told him it was good to work with him and was wishing him the best at his new job. In our conversation he thanked me for teaching him and said that he had learned quite a bit from me taking the time to teach him. His comments made me think a bit, primarily that I plan on teaching for the entirety of my life. Ministry is education.

In Ephesians the Apostle Paul talks about how the Ephesian Christians had “learned Christ.” The Puritans often associated the Christian life with being in “Christ’s school.” The Christian life is a life of education. It is a life of learning.  Its the kind of learning that I find myself thanking the people who have poured their lives into me to teach. I’m much more thankful for the knowledge I’ve learned about Christ than I am how to filter the fryer grease at work. As Sinclair Ferguson said, “The knowledge of God is our greatest privilege.”

Ferguson also said:

“True knowledge of God is not learned from books (although they may help us); it is not learned in theological colleges (although they should encourage it.) It is not merely increased information about God (although such information should stimulate it). No, the knowledge of God is a  personal knowledge because it is the knowledge of a personal God. It is received by those alone who seek to know him in a spirit of dependence upon him. ”

Knowing God isn’t just about knowing theology. It is about knowing the God of theology.

If we are to know the God of theology we need to have the heart of David as he sang in the 25th Psalm.

“Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” – Psalm 25:4-5

David certainly has a personal view of God in his song as he implores the Lord personally. His philosophy of Christian education is the one we all need. I’m thankful for all the professors I’ve had in school. I’m thankful for all the living and deceased theologians on my shelves that have spent hours educating me. But, greater than all the John Owen I’ve read and all the lectures I’ve sat under is the one whom we all seek to know greater.

If I want to be a good theologian I need to pray with David to the Lord to teach me. We need the Lord to teach us. We can’t just pick up a systematic theology and expect to systematically know God. (Though a good systematic theology text can be a tremendous aid in pointing us to the scriptures and thinking logically about God.)

Being a good theologian is desiring God. – ‘Make known your ways, O LORD.’

Being a good theologian is being like Jesus. – ‘teach me your paths.’

Being a good theologian is being humble enough to be lead. – ‘Lead me in your truth.’

Being a good theologian is having a teachable heart. – ‘teach me.’

Being a good theologian is knowing Jesus. – ‘for you are the God of my salvation.’

Being a good theologian is being patient and expectant. – ‘for you I wait all the day long.’

“Good and gracious God, who desirest nothing but the health and salvation of them that trust in thee, extend thy goodness and infinite mercies upon us thy poor servants, and put away all our iniquities, that we, being governed by thy Holy Spirit, may walk uprightly in thy holy commandments, without any wavering; that in the end we may enjoy the bliss obtained for us by thy Son, Christ Jesus. Amen.” – Scottish Psalter, Psalm 25, a prayer.


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