- bag of candy…check
- deflated soccer ball…check
- Polaroid Instant Camera…check.
You are ready to go. You’re going to impress everyone with your knowledge of how to draw a crowd in those African villages. Between your instant photos in villages that don’t think you are stealing their souls and your bags of candy, you’re about to become a rock star.
But, purgatory awaits—some call it international travel. Three plane flights over two days to get to your remote destination. As a seasoned traveler, you have a plan. Tylenol PM, eye mask, noise cancelling headphones, and neck cushion all tucked away in your carry on bag with a change of clothes just in case.
Finally, you land. A hot shower washes the sleep from your eyes, a film of filth gathered at 40,000 feet, and the stiffness from your knees being crammed against seats made for Pygmies.
Your first glimpse of the unreached. The sites and sounds put you in a trance eclipse by the hustle and bustle of busy city life. You came to tell people who had never heard about the name of Jesus. So when you saw the cross necklace hanging from the rear view mirror in the taxi, it took you by surprise.
Even in the remote regions, one rickshaw had a John 3:16 bumper sticker—definitely not what you expected. After the shell-shock wore off and you had time to engage the people, you realize that this culture mixes ancestral worship with animism in a blender of syncretism to create a form of monotheism…only it’s not. Syncretism would be the most accurate name for it, and although they have heard of Jesus, they’ve heard of the Mormon Jesus, the Christian Jesus, and the Jesus who loves them and just wants what is best for them.
Are you ready for this? Are you ready to combat false views of Christology? How will you demonstrate that not all roads lead to heaven? This is why we study Systematic Theology. Theology at its best happens when confronting an unbelieving culture with the truth of the Bible.
Because of your study, you will avoid errors like believing that there was a time when Jesus didn’t exist, that Jesus and Satan are brothers, or that one day we will become gods just like Jesus.
Perhaps you wonder if you can learn theology this well. I contend that you can. Humans have a remarkable ability to learn what they want to learn. Some choose to learn how to hunt, others how to fish, some to play sports or work on cars. Whatever your favorite hobby is, chances are that you know the subject pretty well. That same energy and effort focused on the study of Systematic Theology can equip you to be used by God to teach others. You may never write a profound work on eschatology, but let’s be honest, most of us will never write anything that lasts very long, but we may be able to influence someone’s standing before Christ, which will last forever.
God communicated the truth to us so that we would understand it. God is not a God of confusion but has given us a clear testimony so that we may learn and teach others. In doing so, we fulfill the Great Commission of our Lord.
Editor’s Note: This is the seventh article in the series “Why You Should Study Systematic Theology” by Thomas White, vice president for student services and communications at Southwestern.