Recently, a young high school-aged man (considering the ministry himself) asked me "Why did you study theology?" I was quick to answer his question, but then I began realize that my answer is vastly different today as compared to 2009 when I began my studies. After some personal reflection, I was baffled when I thought about what younger René had believed about theology...something like: "I study theology to satisfy the intellectual craving of my human mind." To be completely honest, I have recently wondered if this was my sentiment even up until the point I stepped on the seminary campus! According to younger René, theology was no more than a body of knowledge to be consumed—no more than any other subject like biology, chemistry, physics, or even worse, just another philosophy. If that were the case, theology would become no more than static to the "theological-scientist" who sits in high towers, receiving the waves of cryptic nonsense. Boring. Uninspiring.
The true theologian, however, knows that theology is not meant to be a lofty discipline, only to be enjoyed by the uber-intellectual types. Any good student will eventually realize that the study of theology is, above all else, a gift that is meant to be delivered and enjoyed by all the saints, the congregations, and the church itself. Theology, "words concerning God," is not made up of various notions and opinions of men, but is the divine truth—God's God's own doctrine—which can only be steadfast, unperishable, and the source of all truth, because the source of all true theology is founded in the witness and work of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Thus, theology is not man's at all, but is God's own doctrine of our Savior (Titus 2:10), which must be given to all Christians as a gift, just as Luther preached: "These are words which no one can exhaust or fathom; and when they are rightly believed, they out to make one a good theologian, or rather a strong, happy Christian, who can speak and teach of Christ..." Theology cannot and should not be understood as something abstract, intangible, or impersonal. It speaks to you, personally, who were once dead in sin, but now are called to a new life in Christ (Romans 6). This theology we study, found in the Scriptures, is all about Jesus and His Gospel that saves sinners. All theology is, and will always be, centered on Christ and giving all that He has given us to teach and preach: the entire counsel of God! Because it's all about Christ, theology must be delivered to you, His children. If Christ is delivering theology in his Word, then it can only be a gift for you to receive.
So why study theology? Because it's all about Christ. The task of theology is to point your fallen man to Jesus, to take you to the font, to point you to the Supper, and always lead to the Cross. Theology is all about Christ, it is Law and Gospel, it is for killing the old and making alive the new, it is for you. As sheep hunger for the green pastures, you—the Christian—cannot help but desire to live within the fold of your beloved Shepherd, to hear His voice speak to you daily, to hunger for the food and drink of eternal life. Whether it looks like a pastor teaching his beloved congregation, a parent with his children, an old man in his bed, or the catechumen clutching his first Bible in one hand and Small Catechism in another, to truly study theology is to dwell in Christ. So then, we pray with David, "Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens! My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path" (Psalm 119:89, 25, 105).
René Castillero is an MDiv student of CTSFW, former HT summer vicar, and currently serving as vicar at Risen Savior Lutheran Church, Basehor, Kansas.
Created: May 7th, 2016