Theology is a word that needs to be examined. Here are some brief definitions of the word:
Webster’s dictionary defines theology as “the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially: the study of God and of God’s relation to the world.”
“Saint” Augustine said theology is “Rational discussion respecting the deity.”
A. H. Strong, theologian and creator of Strong’s Concordance, said that theology is “the Science of God and of the relations between God and the universe.”
Charles Ryrie, author of the Ryrie Study Bible, says theology is “thinking about God and expressing those thoughts in some way.”
Millard Erickson, a Baptist theologian says theology is “the study or science of God.”
Theology is the study of God. The question comes in: what are we studying since we can’t see God?
This is where I’d have some problems with a couple of these definitions above, primarily Augustine’s.
Theology to Augustine is rational discussion about God. Another word for “rational discussion” would be “philosophy.” Some might even start talking about “Blowing Smoke,” or other such things.
Theology derails once we start basing it on our thoughts about God. I’m definitely not saying that theology is irrational. What I am saying is that our thoughts are not the basis for an understanding of God.
Revelation is our foundation for theology. We know things about God to the extent that God has told us things about Himself.
Augustine has a ton of philosophy in his theology, which makes sense based on his definition of theology.
I think Augustine had more philosophy than revelation in his conclusions.
To be frank: I do not care what your rational thoughts about God are. Nor do I care about Augustine’s rational thoughts.
What I care about is knowing God’s Word.
Theology then is bound to lead you into philosophy and speculation, things the Bible warns us not to get into (where “vain deceit” means “speculation”).
In my opinion, the Bible itself has warnings about theology (if theology means our “thinking about God”).
If one comes to theology with an underlying skepticism, one will be able to make more sense out of it, and will be able to avoid theological pitfalls that have been falling the church into pits for years.
Theology should give you the willies. It should make you physically feel weird. If you read Augustine and come away feeling just fine, you either didn’t actually understand him, or you don’t understand the Bible.
“Theology” is not a word in the Bible.
Pro Tip: When talking about biblical things, watch out for the constant use of a word that is not used in the Bible. Examine those words. I bet there’s a lot of excess baggage hanging on them.