Why We Need Theological Training (Part 2)

So, hopefully we’ve established in Part 1 that biblical and theological studies are good for a healthy Pentecostalism, and a way of loving the Lord with our minds. But they aren’t just individual pursuits, for the odd member of the Pentecostal community here or there. Serious biblical and theological study isn’t just for one expert whom we can wheel in in case of emergency! Rather, this serious study is fundamental to the training of well-equipped Christian ministers.

Augustine of Hippo has left us a book for the training of pastors (De Doctrina Christiana), which he starts off by presenting to us the two necessary aspects of ministerial training:

1) ‘A way to discover what needs to be understood’

2) ‘A way to put across to others what has been understood.’

The second thing here is essentially communication. We might think in terms of practical theology/missiology/homiletics/evangelism. (And Pentecostal training has often been really strong on this.)

But, notice that Augustine’s 2nd necessary thing isn’t independent of the 1st! It’s not just putting stuff across to others, but ‘a way to put across to others what has been understood.’ That understanding comes from his first necessary thing: ‘A way to discover what needs to be understood.’ And that way to discover what needs to be understood is the work of biblical studies and theology!

For Augustine – way back in the early years of Christian training – the academic and the practical couldn’t be separated. Theological and biblical studies go hand in hand with missiology and practical theology. And that practical side of training depends upon the theological side. The goal of training for Christian ministry intertwines both the theological and the practical, so much so that effective training can’t have one without the other.

And this mutual intertwining of theology and practice isn’t just a matter for training. It’s something which is vital in training, because it’s something which is constantly needed in the life of the church.

Theology is a serious matter. For, knowing the Triune God, and knowing ourselves in light of His self-revelation is the most (to borrow a phrase from Calvin) ‘true and sound wisdom’ (Inst. 1.1.1.). So, if it’s so serious, it needs some serious attention, and serious time devoted to its study.