Theology isn't only for pastors and scholars

(Photo: Unsplash/Hannah Busing)

Churchgoing isn't as popular as it once was, but many people may still be open to learning about the Christian perspective of God, says Ligonier Ministries CEO Chris Larson. 

Larson said while there was widespread "illiteracy" about the nature of God as revealed in the Bible, and a "worldwide theological famine", the findings of Ligonier's research may point to a desire to learning more. 

In its study of 3,002 American adults, only 15% agreed that "learning about theology is for pastors and scholars only". 

This proportion fell to only one in 10 professing evangelicals. 

Ligonier said the results suggest that in spite of the prevailing secular culture in the US, many Americans do not believe that studying the truth of God has become irrevelant or something that should be confined to academia only. 

"While many people deny basic tenets of the Christian faith, it may be the case that they still desire to have some understanding of who God is, even if it is their own self-constructed theology apart from biblical revelation," said Ligonier, which was founded by theologian RC Sproul. 

It may even be that Covid-19 has lead to people to "giving more thought to ultimate matters of eternal significance", the ministry said. 

The finding comes from the 2020 State of Theology, the bi-annual study by Ligonier that will be released in full on 8 September. 

In another preliminary release ahead of the full report, the study found that nearly a third of evangelicals think Jesus was only a great teacher. 

Larson said the results suggested a need for more Bible teaching. 

"Illiteracy about the Bible's teaching on the character of God has deepened the worldwide theological famine," he said.

"This 2020 State of Theology survey shows that people inside the church need clear teaching just as much as those outside the church.

"Despite widespread efforts within our culture to remove all mention of God from the classroom, from scientific inquiry, and from civil discourse, no one can escape the Creator of all things who reveals Himself plainly in nature and in Scripture.

"People know that God is, but they do not know who He is. Our sociocultural problems are at root theological.

"Theology is not a luxury; it's for everyone because it is essential to right living and thinking."