Dr. R.C. Sproul often hears people push back with an almost hostile attitude toward the study of doctrine, saying things like, “I don’t need all that doctrine — doctrine divides. All I need to know is Jesus.”
Sproul says he likes to ask them, “Well, who is Jesus? As soon as you start to answer that question,” Sproul observes, “you’re in theology. It’s unavoidable.”
…the fundamental assumption for systematic theology is that God’s Word is coherent intelligible — that God is not the author of confusion.
So whether or not a person realizes it, everyone’s a theologian. And Sproul wants people to be good theologians with sound theology, consistent with the Word of God, which is why he wrote “Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology.” He wants to provide an accessible resource that encourages people to be diligent students of the Word of God.
In an interview at RenewingYourMind.org, Sproul refers to people who resist study and say they just want a childlike faith. He affirms an implicit faith where a person trusts whatever God says as a child trusts his father. “But,” Sproul warns, “often it’s used as an excuse for slothfulness with respect to a diligent study of the Scriptures. … The Apostle Paul says we should be babes in evil, but in understanding, be men.”
Like the Apostle Paul, Sproul wants readers to be knowledgeable enough about theology to identify heresy.
“In the Old Testament, the greatest threat to the security of Israel was not the armies of the Philistines, but it was the false prophet within the gates who would distort and direct people away from God’s Word.” Thus, Sproul wants to let the collective wisdom of teachers throughout the ages inform one’s historical study of doctrine and creeds, leading to deeper understanding of Scripture and greater discernment regarding heresy.
In “Everyone’s a Theologian,” Sproul systematically reviews basic teachings in short, easy-to-digest chapters to create an accessible and comprehensible resource for the lay reader to become a more informed, diligent student of God’s Word.
He has heard people express concerns and confusion about systematic theology and explains that the fundamental assumption for systematic theology is that God’s Word is coherent, intelligible — that God is not the author of confusion. “Every doctrine of the Scripture impacts every other doctrine of Scripture. … The Bible doesn’t contradict itself. … The Bible is its own interpreter.”
As a person grows as a theologian, the most important goal Sproul wants to emphasize is that we be obedient to God. In order to obey God, he says we need two things: First, we need to understand the truth of who God is and what He wants us to do, and second, we need the spiritual power and inclination to do it.
“I can know the truth and not do the truth, but I can hardly do the truth if I don’t know what the truth is,” Sproul concludes. “Fundamental to living and walking as a Christian is a clear understanding of the truth of God.”