What Christian literature (books) do I need to have studied in order to begin a major in theology?
Usually, in order to major in Theology, one must pass an entrance exam in subjects such as: your native language (grammar and literature), history, music, and in some cases even a foreign language. Although, none of these subjects are directly related to Theology. There is just one book that you must read/study very well in order to study Theology, the Holy Bible.
When I went to the theological seminary to finish filling out my documents for the semester I saw some students who were applying to be admitted. One of the young men admitted that he had never read the Bible from cover to cover. Clearly these young men were not admitted but the saddest part of all was that they were trying to study theology without having read the entire Bible at least one time. The people who should attempt to study theology are the ones who have been called by God and have a special desire and passion for the Word of God. Why? Because this is their calling once they graduate; to teach people to study and love the Holy Scriptures.
There is another sad aspect to this . . . Some of the students who are accepted into seminary get so overwhelmed with the books and extra-biblical resources that they have to read and study that they no longer have or make time to study the Bible. I thank God that I studied at a seminary where the professors required us to work extensively with the Biblical text, especially when I learned that there exist seminaries where the Bible is not the main focus of the student’s studies. I even heard of a case (a friend) where a person abandoned his seminary degree because he was so focused on preparing for class that he would go weeks without opening the Bible. When the students were given an assignment, they were required to have at least 20 sources other than the Bible and the Biblical source was not given much consideration. That is not good at all and I pray that no seminary would ever set aside the Bible for other sources.
The Apostle Paul warns us that in the last days people will put less and less emphasis on the Word of God and this seems to be happening before our eyes, especially when some seminaries emphasize other sources more than the Bible. In II Timothy, Paul writes the following to his beloved disciple Timothy:
14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness ; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3)
May the Lord help us to emphasize the Scriptures above all else and see the value in Them so that we can be true disciples of Jesus Christ because He, Himself, has said:
31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine ; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8)
For all who are planning to study theology and for those who have graduated with a degree in theology I want to offer a resource that will be unbelievably important and helpful for you. I am talking about the inductive Bible study manuals offered by precept.org. These resources help you turn to the source of good theology, the Word of God.