September 11, 2012 by Daniel Beckworth
When you make any statement about God it is a theological statement by nature. Theology is the study of God. Wayne Grudem would also broadly define theology as any attempt to answer questions we might have about the Bible, God, or spirituality. All of this is theology. Man was made in the image of God and finds his identity and purpose in his Creator alone. Any attempt to define humanity, our desires, and our nature is also a study of theology. All of the questions that we ask in this lifetime can be traced back to a bigger source. The pain that I feel in the midst of a trial or tribulation is not simply regulated to the field of emotion, but at its core it reveals the effects of sin in a fallen world. It is theological in nature. There are no areas of life too big for theology. There are no hurts or pains of life too deep for theology. It is precisely in these areas that we must fight the temptation to ignore theology and we must dive deeper into who God is.
Paul warned young Timothy to guard his doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16). This obviously shows that what we believe is extremely important. It also reveals that Timothy would do well to hold firm to that which has already been revealed. The deep truths of who God is and what He has done are not up for debate. It is truth to be maintained, not opinion to be twisted and molded into our own image. We simply do not have the right to try and cast God in our own image. It has been said, “In the beginning God created man in His image and we’ve been trying to return the favor ever since.”
We live in the midst of a postmodern world that is cynical of truth. The current generation values experience above documented facts. Truth, according to a postmodern, is only in the eye of the beholder. Each community, in turn, is responsible for creating truth in the context of their environment. There are obvious fallacies with this idea. You often find that a person is postmodern in terms of their views of religion or the origin of truth, but there isn’t a postmodern on the planet that feels that “truth is relative” when it comes to their bank account. If they go to the doctor concerning a severe pain they’re having, the patient does not want relative truth. The patient, of course, wants the truth.
This way of thinking is spilling over into our views of God and spirituality. The current generation values experience and personal preference over long-standing tradition and Orthodox Christianity. Experience is well and fine. Personal preference is nice, but we have a major problem with the idea that you can define God according to your personal preferences and experiences. The problem is that God has already chosen to divinely reveal Himself through His Word. We aren’t left to guess, wonder, or wade through a lifetime of experience in order to find who God is and what He is like. God cut out all the speculation and gave us revelation. The Scriptures detail thousands of years of redemptive history which are full of God’s character, His mighty acts, and how He relates to and deals with humanity. We also have two thousand years of church history that only confirms this.
If you browse Twitter or keep your eyes open to what is happening in mainstream Christianity, you will often notice people claiming to have found “a new way to worship” or “the hidden meaning to this or that.” Their claims are ridiculous. After thousands of years of recorded redemptive history and two thousand years of church history, we haven’t found anything that wasn’t already revealed. We haven’t created anything, rather, we’ve only rediscovered what we forgot. The Social Gospel movement would have you believe they’ve found the true meaning of life by serving a hot meal at the homeless mission. Laughable. You should serve the poor, but that’s not your source of identity. College students act like the Passion Conferences and Louie Giglio found true worship. Not quite. The Passion Conference simply placed kindling on a fire that’s been burning long before our time. Charles Spurgeon once said, “But, beloved friends, there is nothing new in theology but that which is false; only the old is true, for truth must be old, as old as God himself.” Solomon similarly stated, “There is nothing new under the sun.” We haven’t created or discovered any new systems of worship or of the nature and character of God. If you think you’ve created something new or discovered a new characteristic of God outside of His Word, you’re probably a heretic or at least extremely confused.
In order to know God, we must find our source of truth in His Word. We know that Jesus is the foundation of truth because He is the Truth (John 14:6). We also find that every word that Jesus has spoken and every revelation that He has given is truth (John 17:17). Any attempt to know God apart from his word is an exercise in futility. It ultimately leads to false doctrines, false views, poor theology, liberalism, and it leads you far from God. Charles Spurgeon also said, “If you wish to know God you must know His Word; if you wish to perceive his power you must see how He worketh by His Word; if you wish to know His purpose before it is actually brought to pass you can only discover it by His Word.”
“You get guys that say they’re not theological, well here’s the problem with that: if you’re opening your mouth and you’re talking about God, you’re being theological. The problem is if it’s not rooted in biblical, historical orthodoxy, you’re probably being a heretic. So you can use that line, “I’m not theological.” You are being theological, it’s just really bad.” Matt Chandler