One of the struggles Martin Luther had was over the meaning of Romans 1:17:
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Once Luther came to a clearer understanding of this verse, his theology grew by leaps and bounds. His began to look at theology not from the scholastic view, a view which he called the "theology of glory" to a view of theology with grace and the cross at its centre. In that vein, he had three principles for studying theology. These are valuable for us today.
First, there was prayer. A theologian, no matter who he or she is, needs to be before God in prayer to be a theologian of any value. Secondly, study and meditation. That's a pretty obvious step. We cannot learn without study and meditation. His third element is testing. Dr. Calhoun puts it this way:
What Luther meant by that was that everything that happens to us teaches us to be a good theologian. All the doubts, turmoil, pangs, terror, panic, despair, desolation, and desperation that invade our lives help us to exegete the Bible. They help us to understand what God is saying. It is those experiences that enable us to become real theologians. Luther’s famous saying was, “It is living, dying, and even being condemned that makes a theologian, not reading, speculating, and understanding.” He said, “It is no wonder David was such a good theologian because of all he went through. He suffered so much that he could write the psalms.”
I think this shows us the proper place of knowledge and experience. It is true that simple study and meditation devoid of any personal experience or testing of faith produces nothing but a dry intellectual assent. Our lives of faith were meant to be experienced, but at their foundation is the prayer and study of Scripture that inform our experience. I thought this was an interesting element to Luther, and one I had not heard of before.