Saturday, March 17, 2007

Just A Short Note: Theology Is Not Always Our Friend.

For my own personal growth in the word, and to fend off the clever and self-important messengers of historic and contemporary christian theology, I need to once in a while remember certain important things.

You have those who say that to study scripture and even merely read the bible is to engage in theology. Theology is an inescapable part of looking to and understanding God's word.

The truth be reconciled that, yes, theology is a study of things religious. Is there any disagreement with that definition? We have Christian theologians, Hindu theologians, Islamic theologians and even Greek Mythologogical theologians. This man-made science of theology has to be applied with the uttmost care when using it to clarify the words of God's revealed self, Jesus, in Christianity, for Jesus said already that His words are Truth which came from the Father. We have to recieve them that way, all of them, together, purely and plainly.

Yes, and then you have spiritually guided Christian theology, in which you have wild disagreement and spiritual disharmony that is in reckless opposition to the clear scriptural counsel to agree and be of the same mind in scripture. When the theological tools are applied to God's word discretely and with measured restraint it can lead to reinforcement and support for Christ's own words. When it's used selfishly or superficially it can leave brethren splintered and scattered and left apart from each other in slightly different gospels.

The world of Christian theology, has long ago taken on a life of it's own, apart from sound workmanship in and under Christ's counsel. It's become virtually a man-made science trying to prove those things which God ordained for us only to know in part for now.

This makes it clear to me that Christian theology is not always our friend and cannot be said to be a part and parcel of studying God's word.

I need protection from the fleshly biting and devouring forces thriving within the Body of Christ in the form of self-proclaimed christian theology. And that very reassuredly comes in the form of a good literal rendering of scripture in the NASV bible, a Greek/English NASV interlinear bible in Greek and English, a good scriptural dictionary, a concordance to bolster the memory, along with the promised indwelling Spiritual help that Christ came through with for us. A good teacher is invaluable as well. One that's always learning. One that you can be sure you have when he uses the entire bible to teach itself, so to speak. And it's a big book and is very helpful to have someone around with a love and a respect for it that's been through it a few more times than I have.

Very few people share my fascination and admiration for christian theological thinking from just after Christ and until now. In my own mind, that may be why I can see it, not only for what it is, but more importantly, for what it is not. And then get back to studying the pure milk of the word right from the book. As it was intended. Oooo...can I say that? As it was intended? Yes, most definately.

It was a more comforting day when I came to that realization. Hope it works for a few others as well.

Comfort and joy, spiritually, from Him to us, as promised. Together in Christ(ripped asunder in theology, ohhpppssttt...sorry). And it is well with our soul.



Leo said...

I suppose when I read you commenting on Theology in the negative that you are referring to battles such as Calvinist vs. Arminiam; Dispensational vs. Covenant. eschatological debates

I clearly recall a conferance that I attended in which a Covenant-Reformed person referred to dispensationalists and New Covenant people as antinomian. For the life of me I could not understand the use of the word except as a pejorative. I understand that there are different perspectives on the place of Law in the Christian Life but the New Testament encompasses that which is necessary from the Law of Moses so why the use of a destructive term specifically used for its ambiguity. Anyway that was an example.

I suppose another time was a recent Christianity Today article that referred to Jonathan Edwards as my homeboy I understand and appreciate the need for Christian Heroes but sometimes we go too far and try to use this to show a distinctiveness apart from Christ alone. I appreciate the use of theological terms for quick reference in conversation to save time but we must be careful.

All that to say that I agree with you.

Todd said...

Well sure. Antinomianism is a highly flawed system of theology that was/is opposed to Calvinism in major ways and is now a slur word used by some Calvinists to insult anyone that doesn't accept Calvins uniquely devised doctrines. We don't need to single Calvinists out but it is easy to do because they've staked out a system at an extreme end of the theological spectrum it seems to me.

Oh yeah, theological terms and principles are an inseparable part of learning God's word. Then one has to realize that the Christian theological world is at hostile impasse over the meaning of some of the most important of those terms, as well as questions concerning our salvation. I think that leaves a person with an important lesson. But beyond learning how to think for oneself and approach scripture in a more humble way, I'm still trying to learn how to phrase that lesson in some effective way.

Inevitably a Christian will wind up in a friendly(they start out that way anyway) debate with a fellow believer, on some important and senstive spiritual matter, and I'm tired of where they inevitably deadlock. In a sense, there has to be something inexcusably wrong with an approach that continuously leads us there. I can't get comfortable with being taught by the church, as we are generally, that deadlock is an acceptable stopping point. Frankly, I need to get more comfortable with how I'm going to avoid that myself, be truer to Christ's plea for not superficial but scriptural unity with fellow believers, and have some sort of scriptural defense against the inane quarrels that are inherent and pervasive in the theological status quo.

Don't have many answers right now Leo, but they're out there and they're far more worth ruminating towards than these irreconcilable disagreements over the questions that endeavor unnecessarily beyond the belief and assurance in the Savior, which we then can all condemn and accuse ourselves over, all the while forcing answers on scripture that don't bear any fruit to God or man. Nice kicking that around with you Leo.

Neat Homeboy link conversation you included.

Bhedr said...

It is also true that theology can be used like mammon to hoard and relieve the conscience from the simplicity of trust in Christ. I always like to remember that Peter called us to desire the sincere milk of the word like newborn babes. I don't believe he ever wants us to get above thinking in that mode for it is truly the only way to learn. We are to follow the Lord as dear children.

This was a good thought as well>When it's used selfishly or superficially it can leave brethren splintered and scattered and left apart from each other in slightly different gospels<

an "unfortunate" thought but true actually:-)

It leads to a series of unfortunate events that stem from too much thought:-)

Todd said...

I appreciate your interesting thoughts Brian.

It leads to a series of unfortunate events that stem from too much thought.

Well that's the way it seems to me. Thought that is driven by men's desire to know all(and perhaps be as much like God as possible), instead of leaving alone what God has chosen to not fully reveal. That idea takes far more respect and discernment to embrace than looking for one more theologian who might be able to write the book that sorts it all out. That, to me, is looking in the wrong place, as exemplified by the many brilliant Christian minds which it has not satisfied or enlightend, beyond mere intellectual self-gratification. Too much of the wrong kind of thinking is a deciever to be sure. Those powerful minds need to open themselves up to one another and ask themselves how they can all be coming to different conclusions, and perhaps how it is, fundamentally, where they are missing the mark on the one mind, one judgement, one truth of our one Book.

Interesting to think about anyway.

Dawn said...

Great post Todd. I think we must be careful with whom we engage in debate. Some people are so arrogant in their theology that they will cut fellowship with you if you don't agree with them. I find that simply astounding as it goes against the very teaching of our Lord and Savior.

Todd said...

Thanks Dawn...yeah, if only people could see the deception and pride in that type of turning away from His teaching. Too bad a few more of our great Christian thinkers didn't take more time to address that one. It's sure left us a scattered bunch with difficulty talking to one another.