Why study theology? A quick search on the world’s #1 job site (Indeed.com) yields a total of roughly 1 job vacant in the field of theology. That’s not a promising employment outlook. So why study theology if there are no jobs for theologians?
Those who have studied theology would offer a number of responses to this question. Perhaps the quickest response would be that the folks who value theology—such as Christians in local churches—don’t use job sites like Indeed to find their leaders. But even more important, the study of theology is not undertaken merely to “get a job.” Theology is not about a particular career path. Theology is about everything.
Let me explain.
If life is like a game of chess, then theological study is the Queen of the board. The Queen models two essential features in chess which highlight the significance of theological study for life. First, the Queen protects the value of the King. So long as the King is safe, the game plays on. So it is with real life. In theology, God explains and defines the whole game. So long as his truth is preserved (kept safe), the game continues in an orderly way. The movements of those in the game makes sense. Everyone will know which moves to make and which moves to avoid. In chess, the Queen fights strategically to uphold the honor and value of the King so the game continues. In life, theology does the same thing.
Second, the Queen is actually the most navigable piece on the chess board. Indeed, the Queen is able to perform the moves of every piece on the board except for the Knight. Like the Queen, theological study is about the productive performance of the one who studies it because (again like the Queen) theology covers every aspect of life. The theologian should be able to move in and out of all aspects of life.
Theology answers questions like, who are we? Why are we here? What should we do with our time on the earth? What ought we to value the most? What happens when we die?
As it turns out, understanding God explains who we are; understanding God explains what is going on in the world. Theology is about knowing who created us and who is redeeming us and who is directing time to its appointed end. It’s about understanding everything.
No wonder theology in times past was known as the Queen of the sciences! Studying theology turns out to be the best way to know ourselves and the world we inhabit. One famous theologian sums the matter up this way, ““Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”
If the world and its people are important, then the study of God is essential.