Monday, August 14, 2006

Who Needs Biblical Theology?

A commenter left in response to my post (back in January) about Don Miller’s book, “Blue Like Jazz”, a statement that Miller “was not opposing reformed theology, but was just not thinking of it.” What?! How can one set out to write a book discussing the Christian faith and not think about theology? Yes, I know that he was supposedly setting out to write a book, taking a “non-religious” approach to describe the Christian faith. But in the process of writing a book under the auspice of a “non-religious” approach, the tendency is to carelessly present a particular view of God and our relationship with Him. It is utterly impossible to accurately describe the Christian faith without expounding the knowledge of God based upon the truth of Scripture. I am all for removing any man-made “baggage” that may muddy the message, but you cannot minimize the use of Scripture (which is apparently Miller’s approach with this book), and with any degree of precision, tell people how to have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. I am not talking about one being an expert theologian, but at least have a good grasp of the theological implications of the subject matter they are addressing. Perhaps Miller has good intentions, but to ignore sound biblical theology in an apparent attempt to appeal to the masses is extremely dangerous. It is this attitude that causes the greatest concern with the emerging “church”. To leave out Scripture in an attempt to keep from offending people is an erroneous premise for evangelism. People can only be saved as a result of hearing the truth. If people are offended by the truth, then it is obvious that God has not opened their eyes to the truth. To water down or avoid the truth does nothing more than present a skewed view of the Gospel.

When someone sets out to write or speak, and whose audience is the general public, they have identified themselves as a teacher of sorts. Like it or not. This carries with it a certain level of responsibility. And that responsibility is to accurately teach, to the best of one’s ability, whatever the subject being addressed. To do otherwise is to engage in a recklessness that does great disservice to the hearers and grieves God. It is this mentality that creates an environment ripe for heresy.

Regardless of whether one is officially in a teaching position or not, all believers should gain a solid grasp of basic theology. Theology by its very definition is the study of God and all believers should be seeking a deeper knowledge of God. This is how we develop intimacy with God and ultimately directs our thoughts and how we conduct our life. In a sense, everyone embraces a theological view whether they realize it or not. The question is whether it is true biblical theology or if it is a false, erroneous theology. A proper understanding of God is crucial in the life of a believer.

I came across these notes on the “9 Marks” website on the importance of theology. Here is an excerpt from this document highlighting some important points concerning biblical theology.

  • The operating assumptions for biblical theology are therefore that the main theological linesof Scripture's story are discernable, and that we are called by God to learn, teach, and apply them in our churches.
  • These assumptions are so essential to the fabric of Christianity that, if we refuse to grant them, we call into question the functional validity of God's self-revelation, and we replace the authority of God's Word with our own finite and fallen reason.
  • Some of the more unpopular biblical doctrines (divine sovereignty, election) are often either explained away so as to remove all inherent offensiveness, or ignored all together by many pastors, thus obscuring the Bible’s clarity in the eyes of God’s people.
  • When we obscure the Bible’s clarity in this way, we erode the confidence of budding
    Christians in their own Spirit-given capability to profit from Scripture by themselves.
  • This corporate erosion of the confidence of God’s people in the clarity of God’s Word
    weakens the local church by weakening the community’s faith in the life-giving, sanctifying power of God’s Word.
  • Obscuring Scripture’s clarity through the attempted removal of its inherent offensiveness also blurs the intentionally distinct lines between the theology of the evangelical church and the various theologies of the world.
  • So in asking whether our theology is biblical, we’re really asking whether the theology we teach either clarifies or obscures the plain meaning of Scripture for the people of God.
  • We’re also asking whether the theology we teach helps distinguish the true gospel from
    other popular but less faithful teaching (cf. Gal 1:6-9).
  • When pastors explain away or ignore some of the Bible's less popular doctrines, the
    church's fidelity to Scripture is at least partially compromised.
  • So in asking whether our theology is biblical, we’re also asking whether or not our
    perception and proclamation of the main lines of the biblical story are faithful to what the Bible actually and objectively teaches, especially on unpopular doctrines.
  • Martin Luther said that if we preach everything but that one point of doctrine which in our time and culture are unpopular, we flee from the very battle we are called to fight.

    Here is a link to the whole section on biblical theology at 9 Marks with some sermons that you can listen to. This is a great resource.

1 comment:

T A Blankenship said...

I want you to know that I appreciate your articles.
I also wanted to thank you for your comments at Fire and Hammer, and to let you know that I believe the Milennial reign of Christ is yet to come, that it will be for 1000 years, that it is literal, and it will be a glorious time on earth.
I do not understand some things about it, but I do believe it is coming.