Saturday, October 08, 2005

Studying Theology at Home

Monergismbooks has some advice on studying theology at home. They recommend going through The Westminster Shorter & Longer Catechisms and Confession; from Thomas Watson's works-- Body of Divinity, Ten Commandments, & The Lord's Prayer; A.A. Hodge's Outlines of Theology; and Biblical Theology by Geerhardus Vos (H.T. Justin Taylor on the Reformation21 Blog). From there, they have other suggestions. You can read it for yourself.

This brought me back to something I've been thinking about, and so I'm going to make a suggestion that is more modest, and probably more mundane, but which I hope will be just as valuable. Before you go study any of these works, go to your church's website and pull up the Doctrinal Statement, Statement of Faith, and/or anything else that talks about 1) what the church believes or 2) why the church does things a certain way. It should include verses (this is all for naught if it doesn't). If the website doesn't include these things, call the office and ask for a copy, and while you're at it, ask them why it isn't posted on the site.

Now, grab your Bible, plus a notebook and pen, and get ready to work your way through it. Before you start, it's a good idea to pray and ask God to open up the Scriptures to you. He is the author, and He will teach you if you ask (cf. Ps 119:12,26,29,33).

Once you've asked God for His help in studying His word, start working your way through the verses. This is not a race, so take it slow--it may take some time, perhaps even a few hours or days. The goal is to learn more about what God's Word says and also what your church believes. Jot down any questions you have, so you can ask someone about them later. Also jot down any thoughts the Lord puts in your mind--this will help you engage your mind.

I'm not trying to slight the list on Monergism, or anything else people have done. I'm just a firm believer in starting with what's right in front of us. I also think this is a valuable exercise because I'm willing to bet many people are attending churches without knowing where those churches stand on theological topics. While everyone may not want to study theology, everyone should know not only where they stand on important Bible topics, but where their church stands as well.

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