How to Study Theology: A Beginner’s Guide
Published by Calvin Seminary
The study of theology is a worthy pursuit. Calvin Theological Seminary is committed to making theological studies accessible both inside and outside of the traditional seminary classroom.
What Is the Study of Theology?
Theology is the study of God and God’s world. This can happen at church, at seminary, and in everyday life.
Theology vs. Religious Studies: What’s the Difference?
While theology involves the study of God, religious studies focuses on knowledge of religious practices and beliefs. These two are connected fields but they also have their own distinct areas of focus.
How to Start Studying Theology at Home and Church
1. Read Scripture
The study of Christian theology should start with thorough knowledge of the Bible.
2. Learn from Church and Small Group Bible Study
Be enriched by learning from Sunday sermons at a local Christ-centered church, small group Bible study, and other opportunities for Christian teaching and dialogue.
3. Learn from Reputable Theologians
Learn from modern and historical theologians. Read their texts, and engage with their commentaries to further your study of Scripture.
4. Get Curious About Your Denomination
In the global Church, different denominations adhere to different theological beliefs. For example, you may want to learn about Reformed theology and how it impacts denominations such as the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA).
5. Pray as You Study
The Holy Spirit is alive and active! You are invited to ask God to reveal truth to you through the gift of Scripture.
How to Study Theology in Seminary
If you want to further your study of theology, you may consider studying theology in a seminary setting.
1. Apply for a Certificate Program
If you would like to further your understanding of theology while gaining credentials, but not a full degree, you may pursue a seminary certificate. Calvin’s Certificate in Christian Leadership helps students to study theology. In particular, Systematic Theology I and II are core classes of the certificate that look at the narrative of Scripture and how it points to Christ.
2. Pursue a Seminary Degree
A seminary degree can help someone study theology through a robust master’s or doctoral program. Calvin Theological Seminary offers the following and other degree programs.
- Master of Divinity (MDiv): Whether you’re looking to become a pastor or other leader in the church, this comprehensive theological degree offers training and equipping for your ministry goals.
- Master of Arts in Bible and Theology: Focus your learning primarily on biblical texts and theological studies through this engaging master’s program.
- Master of Theological Studies (MTS): Narrow your focus further to concentrate on theology in this master’s program.
- Master of Theology (ThM): This advanced theological degree is designed for MDiv and MTS graduates to continue their education and to deepen their learning.
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): Pursue this terminal degree if you are interested in teaching, scholarship, and exploring a specific topic in theology or biblical studies.
3. Study Theology Online
Calvin Theological Seminary’s online and hybrid offerings allow you to study with freedom and flexibility, from anywhere in the world. Explore which theology degrees you can pursue online.
Why Study Theology?
The study of theology is open to everyone. You may want to become a pastor or hold a church position, you may want to teach or run a nonprofit, or you may want to be a full-time parent or caregiver for an elderly family member. No matter your vocation or season of life, you are invited to study theology with us.
The Benefits of Studying Theology
Explore just some of the many benefits of studying theology:
- Faith formation: Be formed as a whole person and as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Seminary should provide opportunities for you to grow in your faith while completing your coursework.
- Career change: Prepare for ordination, or to do other church or ministry work after serving in another career. A seminary education will equip you with theological and biblical knowledge, an understanding of the global church, and opportunities to prepare for the next role you are called to.
- Community of mentors and friends: Be mentored by world-class scholars who care about you! Also, meet classmates—friends from around the world who will take the seminary journey with you.
- Explore the topics of your choice: Through your chosen degree, certificate, and/or concentration, you can go deeper into the topics of theology that most interest you.
Learn More About How to Study Theology
The admissions team of Calvin Theological Seminary is eager to hear about your desire to study theology and to help you chart a course to your goals. Fill out this short form and we will be in touch!
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