Do not let the word “theology” intimidate you. It’s not a word that is strictly reserved for academic types or seminary goers. Theology simply means the study of God and his nature. Every Christian must do theology because it would be impossible to truly be a Christian without it. We must know things about God in order to believe and confess them. Therefore, using our brains is a necessary part of participating in the faith, not sinful as some would have us believe. It does not make you a pharisee or a person who practices dead religion. On the contrary, those who would seek to practice their faith solely by “feelings” are in more danger of walking contrary to Christ than those who would seek to know God by studying him. Theology must inform our doxology (which is our praise to God). Feelings for God are necessary. So much so that our theology would be useless if it did not lead us to affection for God. But to seek after “feelings” without being informed of the nature of God first is dangerous. It is putting the cart before the horse in the most radical sense. Our emotions change, but the truth of who God is never does.
HOW DO WE KNOW
Of all the ways God could have revealed himself to us, he chose to give us a book. Sixty-six books actually. The Bible contains all the vast content that God has revealed to us about himself. We spend lifetimes studying it, and continually learn from it until death. There are millions of books that have been written about the scriptures, and that is because there is such a wealth of knowledge within them.
Because God has given us his words in the Bible, our theology must be Biblical. How we study God must ever be linked to studying his word. When we shift away from the word of God to do theology, we are essentially studying a God that we have made for ourselves. We become like the Israelites at the foot of mount Sinai, looking at our golden calf and saying to ourselves “behold our God who brought us out of the land of Egypt.” God has given us his words! And to prefer another way of doing theology, or even simply implying that the word of God is not enough for us to do theology, is to turn our noses up at God himself. Of course we should use other books and resources in our study, but those books and resources must be Biblical. If we are not seeking God from his word then we must ask ourselves if we are really seeking him at all.
WHAT DOES THE WORD SAY ABOUT ITSELF
“16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” ( 2 Peter 1:16–21, ESV)
The Apostle Peter is quite clear. The scriptures are not “cleverly devised myths”, but eyewitness accounts and prophetic words not produced by the will of man. The scriptures are words that have been spoken through men from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. These words are trustworthy and true. They are not a mixture of truth and error as some would have you believe. God is gracious to us, and he did not speak “some” truths in the Bible. He did not speak partial truths in the Bible. He does not expect us to find the parts that are trustworthy in it and discard the parts that we deem unfit. Yet this is what many today choose to do with his word. Something comes up in it that makes them uncomfortable and they decide that it is “inconsistent with God’s character” and toss it out. It is much more palatable for us to cherry-pick the scriptures for things we like than it is to take God at his word. When we choose to do that, we end up with a man-centered theology that seeks to rob God of his glory by placing a priority on our feelings rather than the truth. The Bible proclaims itself to be the very words of God, and we should read it as such.