Does Theology Matter?
Yes, it does. The Christian faith, while “relational”, is a doctrinal faith, a theological faith. Every single professing believer holds to particular doctrines or theology. Ask any question regarding Christ, salvation, etc., and the response will be, by default, theological. Therefore, the question is not whether or not the professing believer holds to any particular theology, but whether or not his or her theology is true or false.
Doctrine – A body of beliefs about God, humankind, Christ, the church, and other related concepts considered authoritative and thus worthy of acceptance by all members of the community of faith. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary
Theology-The study of God.
“It’s not about doctrine, it’s about a relationship.” How many times have you heard this statement, or something similar? I have heard this many times, including from some in the church. The only trouble with this statement is…..it’s a doctrinal, or theological, statement. At the end of the day, everyone is a theologian. The only question is, what is the foundation for his or her theology, and is it true or false? The Christian faith is built on a foundation of theological truth and doctrine. That’s not to say it’s not about a relationship. It is. But our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ is intertwined with doctrine or theological truth. Sometimes, well-meaning individuals may seek to avoid disagreement or disunity, and, therefore, seek to avoid those things which bring division, namely, theological truth. This may result in a “Burger King” theology, where people seek to have it their way. As a result, the foundation of God’s eternal and unchanging word is exchanged for the changing and “evolving” opinions of men. This is certainly the wrong way to handle the situation. That’s not to say that anyone knows everything about everything in Scripture. There are, however, many areas in which Scripture is clear: gender, marriage, the family unit, human sexuality, and issues of life are some that we must address in our current cultural context. Others would include: the Triune God, Jesus Christ, His substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection. In fact, the Gospel message is the ‘good news” regarding the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the implications for men and women. While there are some issues that allow for disagreement, and the exercise of charity in our dealings with one another, there are some other, primary issues that are absolutely critical to hold to if one professes to follow Christ. This link, https://www.gotquestions.org/essentials-Christian-faith.html , gives us an idea of some essential doctrinal beliefs that are necessary for Christians to hold to.
In a nutshell, “theology” is the study of God. God has revealed Himself to humanity in two ways: general revelation (His creation), and special revelation (His Word). Through His created order, we understand basic things about God, for example, that He is all powerful, transcendent, and intelligent. It is through the study of His word that we learn who God is in a more specific sense, including His plan for man, as well as His stepping into human history in the person and work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Consider this account we read in Acts 17:11-12:
“Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.”
In Acts 17, we read the account of Paul in Berea. The Bereans were commended as being “noble-minded,” for they not only eagerly gave Paul a platform to speak, but also compared his words against God’s word, employing the Scripture as a “plumbline” in order to make sure that Paul’s words were “upright,” or true. They knew that God’s word was the standard that was to be used to check the truthfulness of faith claims. We should expect no less among professing believers. Our churches should be a primary site of instruction in sound doctrine. Yet, believers should also be diligent in the regular study of God’s Word. In our culture today, how are experts trained to spot counterfeit currency? They know the genuine article so intimately, that they are able to discern that which is not genuine. This should be our exact attitude as it pertains to any truth claims, especially the Christian faith and worldview. In his book, Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem defines the authority of Scripture as meaning “that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.” He defines the necessity of Scripture to mean that the Bible is necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing God’s will, but it is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something about God’s character and moral laws.
How many times have we heard someone say something similar to, “My “god” would never send anyone to Hell”?
What does the Scripture say?
When we open God’s Word, we see that Jesus Christ spoke more about Hell than anyone else in Scripture. He described it as a place of eternal, conscious torment.
It is eternal punishment- Matthew 25:41, 46
There is weeping and gnashing of teeth- Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30
It is a conscious experience- Mark 9:48, Luke 16:19-31.
The following is fairly popular: “We’re all children of God.” Certainly, every individual bears the Imago Dei, the Image of God, but are all His children?
What does Scripture say?
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:10
One cannot know the God of the Word apart from knowing the Word of God.
There is no escaping the fact that we cannot know God intimately in any other way than through His Word. We cannot come into a relationship with the eternal, Triune God except through faith in the person and work of the second person of the Trinity – the Lord Jesus Christ. We know nothing of these truths apart from the Word of God. Furthermore, we can know nothing of living the Christian life apart from the theological truth found in 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
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