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Friday, January 27, 2006

Theology Matters

A number of my blog friends find theology - doctrinal discourse and the testing of ideas of faith - unimportant. Not unimportant in the sense of an utter waste of time, but unimportant compared to other things of faith - works of mercy, spirituality, church polity, unity, tolerance, etc. However, I have discovered an idea that I felt needed to be presented.

All theology is also spirituality, in the sense that it has an influence, good or bad, positive or negative, on its recipients' relationship or lack of relationship to God. If our theology does not quicken the conscience and soften the heart, it actually hardens both; if it does not encourage the commitment of faith, it reinforces the detachment of unbelief; if it fails to promote humility, it inevitably feeds pride.

It is far from useless. Those who find it such have deceived themselves, and are likely listening to bad theology already. Those who theologize in public, whether formally in the pulpit, podium, or in print, or informally from the armchair, must think hard about the effects those thoughts will have on people - God's people and other people.

It is because I recognize the link between theology and spirituality - and indeed, the rest of life - that I spend much more time composing, checking, and praying over my theological posts. It means something like the current Grace series (which I merely need to finish typing) takes a while. However, it also means that I am certain I have not dispensed a product that will pollute the spiritual waters of truth.

I trust you all would do the same. Sometimes, though, I think we are far more likely to type now and pray, check, and even think, later.

3 Comments:

  • Good thoughts there, Hammer. Although I'd be more cautious than you in saying that one can be sure of talking the Truth. Better, I think, to say that we write as best we know - rather than (as you say) hastily and without attention, prayer and thought.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 1/27/2006 02:45:00 PM  

  • Sound theology is (or ought to be) the primary concern of the regenerate, after the personal relationship with God of course. And since the latter is unique to each individual (i.e. not unlike the differences between natural parents and their children), the significance of the “doctrine of God” cannot be overstated, as it is far more telling than a simple “profession of faith”.

    Few argue that the “Body of Christ” is limited to just one sect (e.g. JW and LDS, to name the worst offenders). Even the Roman Catholic Church acknowledges Protestants (albeit grudgingly). Not surprisingly, however, I find myself somewhere between arbitrary exclusivity and mindless ecumenicalism.

    In the final analysis, the Truth is immutable. That said though, I appreciate John’s caution, with respect to absolute surety. We are, after all, mere mortals—descendants of Adam. Even still, it is incumbent upon every believer to emulate the Bereans, to think critically (not just emote) and be willing to take (as well as give) correction. In other words: you’re quite right…theology does matter; it matters a lot.

    By Blogger Robert, at 1/27/2006 08:41:00 PM  

  • Thanks for the comment and link, John. I have to vehemently disagree with your statement (but not, I think, with your spirit) when you say we cannot be sure of speaking the truth.

    If the truth is not knowable, it is of no consequence, and for all practical purposes, does not exist. There certainly is truth - there is a God, and I am not him are two of them!

    However, I think what you were saying (correct me if I am wrong) is that there are some matters where the truth is more difficult to grasp, and that there are even some areas where we cannot know it. Eschatology comes to mind as a likely unknowable, and the possibilities of supralapsarianism, sublapsarianism and infralapsarianism do as well. As some truths are more challenging, it is these that demand our greatest care in presenting our case.

    Well said, Robert. Those who dismiss theology outright ignore its effects, and in some cases expose themselves to be likely as separated from God as the atheist.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 1/31/2006 04:16:00 PM  

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