Theological Education Matters
Dr. John K. Mathew
From the beginning, the problem of heresy was present in the church. The Apostle Paul saw this when he wrote, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
In AD 325, the Nicene Council met to combat the threat of Arianism. Arianism was first articulated by Arian, a third century Greek theologian from Alexandria who taught that Jesus Christ was created by God the Father and neither eternal nor equal to nor sharing the same substance as the Father.
The Nicene Council condemned this teaching as heresy and wrote the Nicene creed, which said in part: "We believe in one God…….We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ…….. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life". How can we grow in faith without the proper knowledge of God? It is necessary to have a set of values and morals to help us act properly. This is the role of theology in the Christian life.
Renowned author, C.S. Lewis, reveals the importance of good theology when he wrote, "If you do not listen to theology, that will mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong areas, bad, muddled, out of date ideas". Duffield and Van Cleave tell us that the term theology is used in two ways: (1) It may describe the study of all biblical truth, or (2) It may more specifically describe the study of God, His existence, nature, names, attributes and works."
In other words, "First, 'theology' is a term for an actual, individual cognitive of God and things related to God, a cognition which in most treatments attends to faith and has eternal happiness or its final goal. Second, 'theology' is a term for a discipline, a self- conscious scholarly enterprise of understanding. In the former sense theology is a habit of the human soul. In the latter it is a discipline, usually occurring in some sort of pedagogical setting." (Edward Farley)
Although the church can be classified sociologically as an institution, it is more metaphysical than this term suggests. The church functions within two domains: the physical universe of human relationships and the spiritual realm of eternal and transcendent truth. Great care is required to reconcile the ways and means of differing truth.
Ted Ward, in his foreword to Theological Education Matters writes, "Dealing with the physical universe requires accepting the importance of information. Those who lead must know the basic stuff of the job. They must be prepared through appropriate modes of experience so that they knew the skills, understanding, and roles needed to fulfill the job. They also must be carefully oriented to the social and emotional context of the job- inspired and motivated to fulfill their appointed role in the organization, to represent faithfully the ethos of its purposes."
In other words, theological education matters.