16 Sept 2022
Recently the feedback I received on the ‘Reflections’, concerns the ‘depth’ and difficulty in trying to understand the ‘theological issues’ shared. Some find the subject of ‘theology’ something ‘foreign’ and ‘intimidating’.
But it may be helpful to recognise that our understanding of matters of great concern to God and the church is shaped by foundational theological commitments; it is formed by a conviction that faith and reason are mutually illuminating in a commitment to truth.
Our calling as God’s children is to think deeply and clearly about issues of ultimate concerns, to love the Lord our God with all our mind, and to invite others to join us on this journey. Every Christian, in that sense, is necessarily a theologian.
True notions (from thinking and understanding God’s revelation) should lead to wisdom by becoming a source of insight and of life-change through the Holy Spirit (Col. 1:9). They also feature prominently in countering half-truths and deceptions from the evil one – the reception of such deceptions can cause much and serious damage to our Christian lives.
However, we need to take note that when we become Christians we do not cease to be sinners. Sinners are no more ready to acknowledge God in their thinking, by allowing God’s utterances to exercise authority over their judgements, than they are to acknowledge God in their actions by allowing God’s utterances authority over their behaviour. Sin has its root in the mind, and this attitude of mind is its very essence. When we become Christians, we are still prone in our pride to lapse into the demand that our reason should be permitted to make its own independent assessment of what God says, and we opt to have the last word on whether what is said by the Holy One is credible.
This is as real a moral lapse as any, and the temptation is strong and insidious. This is a real danger facing those who study theology in Bible Institutions; we can end up having a Christianity that is devoid of devotion to God or one that is filled with adoration of oneself and one’s intellectual prowess. It explains how liberalism takes hold among Bible scholars; one significant failing of seminaries is failure to make any real connection between Christian theology and Christian living. The courses offered may be dealing with academic issues rather than questions of Christian living. We must remember that the books of the Bible were written to make disciples and not simply to convey Christian concepts, devoid of the life of God.
The proper subject- matter of theology is ‘revealed truth about the works, ways and will of God’; this places considerable emphasis on the authority of Scriptures, which is seen as God’s own witness to Himself. Knowing true notions about God must go hand in hand with knowing God Himself; the study of theology (true Scriptural truths) should not impoverish our spiritual development, and also should not cause us to feel that it is a subject that is foreign to us, and rather intimidating. It is in fact part and parcel of inculcating genuine faith, and the renewal of the mind in Christ.