Does God want us to do theology?

God, Christ, & The Holy Spirit
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morbo3000
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Does God want us to do theology?

Post by morbo3000 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:29 am

I wanted to spin off some recent threads on the trinity with a statement that Matt made: (I asked his permission before posting this)

"I think God wants us to continue developing our theology, even after the close of the canon.... just with canon-parameters in mind. [snip] I think God expects us to 'do theology'... to put 2 and 2 together... to formulate theories. This doesn't mean we should act like we have it all figured out. It simply means we should, led by the Spirit, try. Jesus even said that when the Holy Spirit came, he would lead us into all truth."

I'd like to see how others flesh that out and press it through questioning.

A starting point...

"I think God wants..." "I think God expects..." How would you justify that presumption? At best, you can only make inductive arguments, which I would find inadequate to warrant such a bold claim.
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dwilkins
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Re: Does God want us to do theology?

Post by dwilkins » Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:36 am

If God is ordered then we should make some logical sense of him. However, I'm not sure how far we should take this. There is no implication in scripture that God is outside of time (he's everlasting, which implies ongoing time, and he lives in heaven where events transpire), that he is impassible (instead of not learning or experiencing events in sequence, he gets mad on a regular basis after bad decisions by humans), or that all people are incapable of wanting to have a relationship with God due to their depravity. Theology based on logic sometimes requires these things, but they cannot be explicitly found in scripture.

We say that God is outside of time because time is part of space and the physical reality. But, this has only been strongly proven in science in the last few hundred years. In addition, as is pointed out by the contributors to "God and Time", we've advanced to the point now that we aren't sure what exactly time is. Who is to say that 200 years from now our conception of time might be scientifically different. Will we have to change our understanding of God because we've changed our understanding of time?

A similar point could be made regarding our use of vocabulary such as "spiritual" when it represents pneumas. Dale Martin has pointed out something very important about this term in "The Corinthian Body." At the time of the writing of the New Testament pneumas was a physical thing just like earth and water. It was invisible, tasteless, odorless, etc., but it was physical. So when we say that we will be resurrected physically there is no crisis presented by Paul when he also says that we'll come forth with a "spiritual body". This only becomes a crisis for us when we conceive of spiritual as immaterial or paranormal. When the book was written there were no such category as immaterial things. All things existed. Now, we might argue that our sense of science has proven that Paul was wrong in his category of thinking so that we need to help him understand the way the world really is. But, I'd suggest that we should do almost the opposite by making sure our theology is bound by the perspective of the person writing the scripture. That doesn't mean we have to go looking for Leviathan. But, it does mean that we don't accidentally assume their cosmology or science was ours.

Doug

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darinhouston
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Re: Does God want us to do theology?

Post by darinhouston » Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:32 am

This is a really good question. I think it's worth asking (especially as a theological question ;) ).

So, God clearly taught us a lot about His "character" and "nature" and "expectations" through all of revelation. However, it seems there is a very obvious limit on what is revealed about Him beyond that, and in fact we have a command not to make an "image" to reduce Him to something we can understand/comprehend. Even a doctrine like the Trinity could be seen as reducing Him to an "image" of sorts we can consider as we worship Him. As such, maybe that's something to be cautious of. I think we should at least use care beyond what we might do with other doctrinal considerations to stick very close to scriptural nomenclature and teachings on the subject of God Himself. That's not to say we shouldn't do it, but I think we should use great care in doing so. I'm reading Eusebius' treatment of Nicea and Arius and the other Eusebius and one thing that is exceedingly clear is how careful many were (clearly not all) to avoid words not used in Scripture in connection with God. The Hebrews wouldn't even use His "name" -- I'm very interested in following this discussion.

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Bud
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Re: Does God want us to do theology?

Post by Bud » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:33 pm

Hi all, morbo3000 asked, "Does God want us to do theology?"

The first verse that comes to my mind is: Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. (NASB)

Also I'm thinking, I want to know God so that I can better please Him. Theology means the study of God, right? So I practice theology to better understand and know God, not neglecting the importance of walking humbly with Him so He might reveal Himself and His ways to me more and more.

I'm also thinking of other verses that speak of knowing the Lord and also increasing in knowledge being said to be important, along with other good things to make sure our calling: (2 Peter 1:5-10).

"Let your gentleness be known by all",

Bud
Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard [it,] and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. (NASB) :)

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darinhouston
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Re: Does God want us to do theology?

Post by darinhouston » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:20 pm

Yes, but I think the question needs to be more narrowly asked. Theology is a broad subject. Clearly we are to deepen our knowledge and understanding of most things pertaining to God's plan and expectation of us as it has been revealed to us. However, I think the more narrow question is to what extent it is wise to have a formula or comprehensive doctrine of God, Himself.

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Re: Does God want us to do theology?

Post by Singalphile » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:25 pm

I thought of this passage first (though I had to search for the reference):

1 Timothy 1:3-7 (NASB)
As I urged you ... instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
We've all heard/read/had discussions (on TNP occasionally, initiated by a caller) that don't go anywhere and seem to have nothing to do with anything that would be beneficial. That's to be avoided, but I'd say that if theological discussions are sincere and edifying towards love, then they are useful and worthwhile and things that we should dwell on ... as long as we remember to also practice these things (Philippians 4:8-9).

Like morbo3000, I think, I also don't very much like to go beyond the language of the Bible. I'd just as soon not have an opinion on something when it doesn't seem necessary, but I don't think God is displeased by those who have opinions on such things even if they're wrong, assuming they're humble, sincere, etc.
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23

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mattrose
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Re: Does God want us to do theology?

Post by mattrose » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:55 am

Revelation, in the truest sense, was Jesus Christ Himself.

The New Testament Epistles and Gospel accounts ARE theologies, in large part. Matthew has certain theological aims, in his writing, that are somewhat distinct from Mark, Luke & John (and likewise for each of them). Paul letters and epistles are usually pretty neatly divided between theology (first half) and practical application (second half).

Now, someone might object to what I'm insinuating by saying.. "Well, yeah, but that is INSPIRED theology, and that's all the theology we really need." But you could just as easily make the opposite point. The fact that God INSPIRED theology is a pretty major endorsement of theology. That's why I prefer to think of the Scriptures as the inspired parameters to our theological work, not the end of our theological work.

All that being said, I'm in basic agreement with the main themes in this thread. I think all theology attempting to clarify that which is not clarified in Scripture should be held non-dogmatically and humbly. We must fall in love with theologies object, not theology as a subject.

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Re: Does God want us to do theology?

Post by jriccitelli » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:57 am

(I accidently posted my other post for another thread here)
Last edited by jriccitelli on Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Candlepower
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Re: Does God want us to do theology?

Post by Candlepower » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:30 am

I think God does want us to "do" theology. Here are two verses (NKJV) that may speak to how we ought to "do" it.

Acts 17:11
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they (the Bereans) received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

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Re: Does God want us to do theology?

Post by jriccitelli » Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:57 pm

I am not sure I understand the question, but I do know that God does ask us to grow in wisdom and understanding, seek out His word as silver and gold, and tie it metaphorically to our forehead.

I think our understanding of God can expand, i.e. we know now that the earth is in fact hung on nothing, we can now surmise that Job may be describing a giant dinosaur, we know now salt is also an excellent conductor and not just good for preserving meat and flavor….

I have been amazed at how much more extensive study we in the Twenty first century can do, than say those of previous generations. I can do more now with a computer than I could say ten or twenty years ago. I can have multiple copies of Bibles and translations all open at once thanks to the printing press and copy machine, I just wonder are we better equipped than say Origen or Luther?

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