Theology Thursday

When I was a freshman in college, I took a huge interest in theology. I spent countless hours researching different views, debating why I thought I was right, and sometimes even alienating people because I was so snub-nosed on the issues.

No, I’m not going into a soteriological or eschatological rant about why Calvinism or Arminianism is right or wrong or why certain end times views are stupid. That’s not the point of my Theology Thursdays, by any means.

If “theology” literally means, “The study of God,” then that’s what should happen when theology is brought up. Sometimes the study of God isn’t all about high philosophical concepts or deeply entrenched religious camps; it really should be about the practicality of who God is and how that relates to us in our everyday lives.

The truth of the matter is that our theology is deeply impacted by the circumstances that happen around us on a daily basis. Our view of God is determined by the authority figures, parents, friends, significant others, etc., that do good or bad to us. And that just isn’t right, in my opinion.

In fact, the situation needs to be flipped. God should be the one impacting our circumstances. God should be the one determining how we react to authority figures, parents, friends, significant others, etc., that do good or bad to us.

So, that’s where I’m going to land today: what’s at the center of our theology? Do we have a man-centered theology, or a God-centered theology?

That’s really high and lofty, even for a nerd like me. I’m sorry. Let me rephrase and get it down to the irreducible minimum: what shapes our knowledge and understanding of God? Does man shape it, or does God shape it?

When we hold a man-centered theology (aka when man shapes our view of God), we put a lot of responsibility for some huge things on our own shoulders. It elevates the position of man and says, “We’re kind of a big deal.” We become responsible for salvation, our futures, our everything, essentially. And God doesn’t really hold MUCH say in it; He can do certain things, but is really limited.

When we hold a God-centered theology (aka when God shapes our view of God), we put a lot of the responsibility for huge things on God. It elevates God’s position and says, “God is kind of a big deal.” He’s responsible for our salvation, our future, and our everything, essentially. We depend on God because He has most of the say in it; we follow what He wants and we don’t limit Him.

That’s really concise and quick, almost bite-sized. But, above all else, we should be making a big deal of God. Our theology should say, “God is a big deal.” I think we need to have a God-centered theology. We still have responsibility, no doubt, but God is the one who gets the credit if He’s at the center of it all. He’s in control of everything and takes care of us no matter what.

I challenge you to make a big deal of God. Like, a really big deal of Him. What do you do when your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/friend/etc. does something really awesome, like INCREDIBLY INDESCRIBABLY awesome for you? You don’t sit there in silence. You go tell someone. And excitedly.

Does this sound familiar? I hope so. God did something incredibly indescribably awesome for us, dirty rotten sinners who are spiritually dead, in sending Jesus to live a perfect life and die in our place in order to bring us back to life. So, what should we do? Go tell someone. Excitedly. About the life and love we have in Christ.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says this about the chief end of man (aka the reason why we exist): “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

What is one way this week that you’ve found joy in what God has done for you?

5 thoughts on “Theology Thursday

  1. The last few weeks have been extra busy and this week was stressful. I came home on Tuesday and had the closest I’ve ever had to an stressed induced panic attack. I felt like my body was crushing in on me. I can be dramatic so it probably wasn’t that bad, but it felt like it. Last week a local pastor friend reached out to go to coffee. On Wednesday we met. It was so encouraging and refreshing. It was as if God knew what I needed last week and provided it for me this week. Go God.

  2. How do you go about having a God-centered theology? Wouldn’t it require some knowledge about God to center your theology on? Where does this knowledge come from? Does it come from our experiences in life? Does it come from our interactions and attempts to interact with the divine? Or does it rely on understanding one’s scriptures? If it is the later, are you really centering your theology around God or are you centering your God theology around your scripture theology? It would seem that centering your God related theology around your scripture related theology is contrary to the initial point. So we go back to my initial point of "how do you go about having a God-centered theology"? Just some thoughts.

    1. Great thought, Thomas. I respond with the simple thought of John 1:1 – "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

      Jesus, being called "the Word of God", therefore gives us a walking, living, and breathing manifestation of scripture, and the fulfillment of it.

      God’s Word testifies to everything He is. If "[a]ll Scripture is breathed out by God" (2 Timothy 3:16), then scripture is ultimately our understanding of God and His communication to us.

      1. Thanks for your response. I guess my reply is coming from a different point of view on this one. The problem with those two verses is that they were both written before the Bible, as we have it today, was compiled and/or completed. John seems to have been written between 80-90 AD and and Timothy around 65 AD. At the time these books were written, other books of the NT hadn’t come into existence yet. So it seems unlikely that these authors would have been referring to our current Bible when they referred to the Word and to Scripture. This seems to put you in an awkward place. If you say that it still applies to our modern Bible then you are implying that you would understand their writings better than themselves. Which seems like a difficult and uncomfortable position to take. But maybe not?

        You also have the problem of the Bible never declaring itself. We tend to read our modern Bible and go "this is scripture". But the Bible never prophesies or states that at some point a Roman Emperor would assemble a group of leaders to compile 66 separate writings into the final and authoritative Word from God to man. Without this type of self proclamation it seems like a difficult leap to say that our modern version of the Bible is what is meant when these separate authors, writing separate pieces refer to Scripture or the Word.

        So yes, John refers to Jesus as the walking manifestation of scripture. But one’s theology defines what scripture is. So you still seem to be basing theology on theology.

      2. Thomas, I’m not going to argue something that you and I don’t see eye to eye on. It’s pointless for both of us, because you are coming from a different point of view.

        I do believe that your argument, however, is missing one of the central points in Christianity, which is the mysticism of the Holy Spirit. John and Paul both were guided by the hand of the Spirit as John chronicled his time with Jesus as he sat on the island of Patmos (with the intent to show the world that Jesus was the Son of God), and as Paul wrote to instruct his son in the faith on how to deal with those in Ephesus who were denying the inerrancy of God’s words, among other issues the young pastor was facing.

        Also, the Bible never had to prophesy or state that Constantine would call together a counsel to canonize what we have today. But, once again, that is where you are missing the mysticism of the Holy Spirit, who I believe led Constantine and the group of leaders to compile our current canon.

        You can agree with what I say, or not. But honestly, what I write is based on my personal experience and interaction with God. I’m not saying it’s hard-and-fast truth by any means, but I am saying this is what I’ve found and learned through my faith journey. If you’ve learned something else, then that really truly is okay.

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