The Pursuit of Theological Study–A Warning & A Proper Goal

The study of religious truth ought to be undertaken and prosecuted from a sense of duty, and with a view to the improvement of the heart. When learned, it ought not to be laid on the shelf, as an object of speculation; but it should be deposited deep in the heart, where its sanctifying power ought to be felt. To study theology, for the purpose of gratifying curiosity, or preparing for a profession, is an abuse and profanation of what ought to be regarded as most holy. To learn things pertaining to God, merely for the sake of amusement, or secular advantage, or to gratify the mere love of knowledge, is to treat the Most High with contempt.

Our external interests are involved in the subject of religion, and we should study it with a view to these interests. A farmer should study agriculture, with a view to the increase of his crop; but if, instead of this he exhausts himself in inquiring how plants propagate their like, and how the different soils were originally produced, his grounds will be overrun with briers and thorns, and his barns will be empty. Equally unprofitable will be that study of religious doctrine which is directed to the mere purpose of speculation. It is as if the food necessary for the sustenance of the body, instead of being eaten and digested, were merely set out in such order as to gratify the sight. In this case, the body would certainly perish with hunger; and, with equal certainty will the soul famish if it feed not on divine truth.

When religious doctrine is regarded merely as an object of speculation, the mind is not content with the simple truth as it is in Jesus, but wanders after unprofitable questions, and becomes entangled in difficulties, from which it is unable to extricate itself. Hence arises the skepticism of many. Truth, which would sanctify and save the soul. they wilfully reject, because it will not gratify all their curiosity, and solve all their perplexities. They act as the husbandman would, who should reject the whole science of agriculture, and refuse to cultivate his grounds, because there are many mysteries in the growth of plants, which he cannot explain (pgs. 13-14).

J.L. Dagg, A Manual of Theology
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