Experience has taught me most Montana people want to know your theology, but could care little if you are a Theologian. I don’t get the feeling they are much opposed to the title, but the word Theologian is old school for most, and smacks of someone who is a little too smart for us regular folks. Like someone who is a farmer but introduces himself as a “crop scientist.” I understand why the authors of this week’s book, Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God state, “A chill often descends soon as the word theology is uttered.” I have personally witnessed this. Most of us probably have.
Studying for the Ministry, I certainly did not set out to be known as a Theologian. People probably assumed I was, but no one ever asked. I simply wanted to be a good Pastor to my community. To be introduced as a “Theologian” probably would have been greeted with yawns. Folks have usually used titles like Preacher, Reverend, Pastor, Clergy or Evangelist. My business card does not say Professional Theologian. After listening to a couple thousand of my sermons, not one listener has said I was a Theologian. I should probably take a hint…
In her book, A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology, Kelly Kapic states the reason for all theology is simply, “To know and enjoy God.” This definition resonates with me. In fact, I distinctly remember the day I read the words “…to know Him Better” from Ephesians 1:17, and clearly felt like God was whispering to me, “That is your mission–helping people to know me better.” If that makes me a theologian, then so be it. A group of people I respect, called the Navigators, have a mission statement that is similar, “To Know Christ and To Make Him Known.”
However, I am not totally convinced that EVERYONE is a theologian, as Roger Olson claims. I am able to somewhat understand his point, but if everyone is a Theologian, then there are some really bad Theologians out there. I can change the oil in my car, but little else. By our authors assertion, this probably makes me a mechanic, but I would consider myself a very bad mechanic. Perhaps that is why the authors made a chapter titled “Not All Theologies Are Equal.”
My favorite word in our book title, and in the final chapter, is INVITATION. I responded positively to that and think my neighbors would, too. I also was glad to see InterVarsity Press as the publisher. I have read other books from IVP Academic, written by folks like N.T Wright, which truly encouraged me. One reviewer on Christianbook.com, a Pastor from Georgia, thought the level of this book was at the high school or undergraduate level, and wished the author would have went deeper. He alluded to the Peanuts Cartoon reflections not being part of a highly academic standard. I concur, in that I finished the book and wished there was more depth. Academic reviews were surprised that the authors waited so long to define theology, although partially defined early, but waiting until much later to flesh it out, almost a third of the way into the book. 
The best question from our book, in my opinion, centers around, “Why Theology?”  To understand WHY we believe WHAT we believe is paramount! Like one of the values of our church Ignite Youth Group, which states, “Becoming disciples who are Biblically informed, especially upon graduation, when our beliefs will be tested by the world.” In effect, knowing theology in this manner may help stem the flow of young Christians who are leaving the faith at alarming rates, according to Barna, because they are not personally grounded in God’s Holy Word. Our authors support the thought, “Solid Christian beliefs will stand the test of critical reflection. As they ‘pass muster’, we will begin to hold them with even greater conviction.”
I wonder what our cohort member, and youth expert, Dan Kreiss would say about this? Could he help us understand why so many of our youth are growing up in the church, and leaving at alarming rates, when they get out on their own? Perhaps they have to find a faith of their own, instead of their parent’s faith. Maybe they leave for a while and then come back at a future life transition, like getting married or having a baby (I have not seen the research results for young folks at some point returning to the church, unfortunately).
I choose to close on this highlight. Our author thankfully states, “Scripture is our primary tool” for Theology. Should not be a surprise, but to some, this foundation is. Christians, being “People of the Book” must always seek to be a Biblical community, based upon what is written in Scripture.  Not on what we think, especially not on what we feel, but on what we KNOW from God’s Word. Amen to that!
That is why I think Theology is also a discipleship issue…
 Peanuts Cartoons referred to throughout our book
 Grenz, Stanley J., and Roger E. Olson. Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God. Downers Grove, IL, USA: InterVarsity Press, 1996. Loc. 32.
 Kapic, Kelly M. Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology. S.l.: read how you want.com, 2013.
 Grenz, Stanley J., and Roger E. Olson. Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God. Downers Grove, IL, USA: InterVarsity Press, 1996. Loc. 48.
 Ibid., Loc. 155.
 Paul, Pastor. “Who Needs This Book?” Review of Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God. Christianity Today, March 4, 2013. Accessed November 30, 2017. Christianbook.comLLC.
 Medley, Mark S. “An Evangelical Theology for a Post-modern Age.” Review of Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God. MS Medley: Academia.edu, November 2013. Accessed November 30, 2017. academia.edu.
 Grenz, Stanley J., and Roger E. Olson. Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God. Downers Grove, IL, USA: InterVarsity Press, 1996. Loc. 331.
 Barna, George. “The Priorities, Challenges, and Trends in Youth Ministry.” Barna Resources. April 6, 2016. Accessed November 30, 2017. https://resources.barna.org/.
 Grenz, Stanley J., and Roger E. Olson. Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God. Downers Grove, IL, USA: InterVarsity Press, 1996. Loc. 355.
 Ibid., Loc. 915.
 Klein, Terrence. Charlie Brown and his football: a story of Christian hope. America the Jesuit Review. New York. November 17, 2017.