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Our Christian Faith
Theology: What Difference Does It Make?
Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 3:00pm

The word theology comes from a combination of two Greek words, theos, meaning God, and logia, meaning knowledge or studystudy of God.

To the average Christian, theology might sound like something hopelessly complicated, frustratingly confusing and thoroughly irrelevant. Anybody can read the Bible. So why do we need head-in-the-clouds theologians with their long sentences and fancy terms?

Faith Seeking Understanding

Theology has been called "faith seeking understanding."  Christian theology is simply an attempt to understand God as He is revealed in the Bible. In other words, as Christians we trust God, but God has made us to want to understand who we are trusting and why we trust him. That’s where theology comes in.

No theology will ever fully explain God and His ways because God is infinitely and eternally higher than we are. Therefore, any attempt to describe Him will fall short.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”  (Romans 11:33-36).

However, God does want us to know Him insofar as we are able, and theology is the art and science of knowing what we can know and understand about God in an organized and understandable manner.

Being Transcendent and Holy, God is both the unknown and unknowable, and yet God continually seeks to reveal Himself to His creation, i.e., the unknown seeks to be known. To learn more about what is means that God is transcendent and The Holiness of God … see my Blogs here:

·       The Miracle of God’s Transcendence

·        The Holiness of God

Some people try to avoid theology because they believe it is divisive. Properly understood, though, theology is uniting. Proper, biblical theology is a good thing; it is the teaching of God's Word.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Combating Heresies, Or False Teachings

When properly used, theology can serve the church by combating heresies, or false teachings. That is because most heresies come from wrong understandings of who God is, understandings that don’t square with the way God has revealed himself in the Bible. The church’s proclamation of the gospel, of course, needs to rest on the firm foundation of God’s own revelation of himself.

The study of theology, then, is nothing more than digging into God’s Word to discover what He has revealed about Himself. When we do this, we come to know Him as Creator of all things, Sustainer of all things, and Judge of all things. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of all things. When Moses asked who was sending him to Pharaoh, God replied “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14).

The name "I AM" indicates personality. God has a name, even as He has given names to others. The name "I AM" stands for a free, purposeful, self-sufficient personality.

God is not an ethereal force or a cosmic energy. He is the almighty, self-existing, self-determining Being with a mind and a will … the “personal” God who has revealed Himself to humanity through His Word, and through His Son, Jesus Christ, and illumination by the Holy Spirit (3rd person of the Trinity).

Each member of the Godhead has the same amount of sovereignty, eternal life, holiness or integrity, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and immutability. They are co-equal, they are co-eternal, and when they are regarded from the standpoint of their essence, God is said to be One. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

This has always been the case, and there never was a time in eternity past when this status quo did not exist. Furthermore, these members of the God-head perform certain functions which differentiate persons in the Godhead.

Revelation

Knowledge about God is not something that we humans can just come up with on our own by thinking it out. The only way we can know anything true about God is to listen to what God tells us about himself. The main way God has chosen to reveal himself to us is through the Bible, a collection of inspired writings compiled over many centuries under the supervision of the Holy Spirit. But even diligent study of the Bible cannot convey to us right understanding of who God is. We need more than mere study … we need the Holy Spirit to illuminate our minds to understand what God reveals in the Bible about himself. The bottom line is that a true knowledge of God comes only from God, not merely by human study, reasoning or experience.

The church has an ongoing responsibility to critically examine its beliefs and practices in the light of God’s revelation. Theology is the Christian community’s continuous quest for truth as it humbly seeks God’s wisdom and follows the Holy Spirit’s lead into all truth. Until Christ returns in glory, the church cannot assume that it has reached its goal. That is why theology should never become a mere restatement of the church’s creeds and doctrines, but should rather be a never-ending process of critical self-examination. It is only as we stand in the divine Light of God’s mystery that we find true knowledge of God.

Paul called that divine mystery "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27), the mystery that through Christ it pleased God "and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven." (Colossians 1:20).

The Christian church’s proclamation and practice are always in need of examination and fine-tuning, sometimes even major reform, as it continues to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

To study theology is to get to know God in order that we may glorify Him through our love and obedience. Notice the progression here: we must get to know Him before we can love Him, and we must love Him before we can desire to obey Him. As a byproduct, our lives are immeasurably enriched by the comfort and hope He imparts to those who know, love, and obey Him.

Poor theology and a superficial, inaccurate understanding of God will only make our lives worse instead of bringing the comfort and hope we long for. Knowing about God is crucially important. We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about God. The world is a painful place, and life in it is disappointing and unpleasant. Reject theology and you doom yourself to life with no sense of direction. Without theology, we waste our lives and lose our souls.

All True Christians should be consumed with theology … the intense, personal study of God … in order to know, love, and obey the One with whom we will joyfully spend eternity.


Source:  Adapted from articles at www.gotquestions.org  and Grace Communion International (GCI).

Hyperlinks to the http://classic.biblegateway.com/, highlighting for emphasis are mine. ... phh


Belief beyond proof is faith. Belief in spite of proof is folly.

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Amen and God bless you.

Pete, Sr.

 

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