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Considering Theology

August 24, 2010

Once Upon a Time…
There was a time when Theology was considered the queen of the sciences — a time when men would gather to debate the intricacies of doctrine and scripture. It used to be that men would wrestle with their own souls over the nature of God and the questions of salvation.

Martin Luther said; If any man has not struggled with the question of whether his salvation was God’s doing or his own doing, then that man…

shall know nothing whatever of Christian matters and shall be far behind all the people of the earth. He that does not feel this, let him confess that he is no Christian.1  Strong Words!

But it’s not in fashion to discuss God or dwell on doctrine these days. You can get sued for even saying; “have a blessed day.” The things of God aren’t politically correct. The plurality of our nation has removed the question of truth. We have dismissed theology as a fairy tale.

Hogwash! Along side Marty I say; “Here I Stand”. I long to study the scriptures and understand the doctrines that make or break a man. Even if our society rejects it, let’s together, you and I, return to the study of theology as the noble quest of loving God with all our minds.

In Considering Theology
Over the years, I’ve developed a few opinions about the study of theology:

  • Every Christian is a theologian. Whether you’ve been to Sunday School or seminary (or both!), if you are a believer, then you are about the study of the things of God.
  • Theology is in essence the study of the revelation of God. The study of religion technically falls under the heading of anthropology because it’s the study of man’s attempt to find God. But, a central theme of “reformed” theology then is that it is centered in the study of God; not man, salvation, the sacraments, the church, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or Christian principles of living. Any good system of theology begins and ends with God.
  • Theology is systematic. That means that all the points of theology fit together to build a system, and that each point is dependent on the other points. Theology has to be completely correct; any weak point unravels the rest.
  • We Christians do a poor job of prioritizing our teachings. As any military man will tell you, there are some hills worth dying for, and there are others that aren’t worth the sacrifice. “Doctrine“, sometimes called first degree doctrines, means a firm, sound teaching from the Bible. “Dogma”, sometimes called second degree doctrines, on the other hand, refers to a teaching that, though based on scripture, is my “established opinion”(Webster’s). The Deity of Christ is a doctrine I will not compromise. However, while I’d love to discuss with another believer the differences in Bible translations, predestination, or mode of baptism, I won’t strongly disagree or lessen my respect for another believer over these differences. As you continue your study of theology, be conscious of the difference between doctrine and dogma. Remember that we are commanded to have unity with other Christians, as well as to avoid false teachers.
  • Theology ought to point us toward God. Theology should never be considered dusty or dry. If the study of the things of God doesn’t draw you closer to God, toward desiring Him and His righteousness, then something is very wrong.

1   Martin Luther, 1525, The Bondage of the Will

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