I love Jesus… I Don’t Need Theology
September 14, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
October 31st will mark the 500th year anniversary of Martin Luther nailing 95 Theses (points of contention to discuss with the leaders of the Catholic Church) to the church door of Wittenberg (the public bulletin board). This event commonly is held as the beginning of the Reformation. Many Protestant churches will celebrate this anniversary.
At Oak Hills, we are recognizing this momentous event by studying some of the theology recovered and championed during the Reformation. These theological convictions have served Protestant and Reformed churches for the last 500 years as a solid foundation. Over the next five Sundays, Tony Layzell is teaching an Adult Christian Education class on what has come to be known as the five points of Calvinism (acronym TULIP). While TULIP is a modern construct, the summary is helpful in understanding how the Reformers thought about the gospel as taught in Scripture. The Reformers were responding to false teaching in the church and desired to recover and preserve the purity of the gospel message.
Then, for the five Sundays in October, Stephen and I will preach a sermon series on the five Solas of the Reformation. Sola gratia, Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria (Latin for grace alone; Scripture alone; faith alone; Christ alone; to God alone be the glory). These five Latin phrases served as summarizing battle cries for restoring the church to faithful, biblical gospel ministry. We’ll consider their meanings and significance for our lives and church today.
We love to celebrate our deep theological heritage that has shaped and enlivened our understanding of the gospel. Unfortunately, there are many Christians who do not believe theology is necessary. In fact, there are Christians who believe that theology actually kills one’s relationship with God, not enliven it. How do we respond to such animosity to the study of theology? Or, on a more personal note, how do we kindle within ourselves a greater desire for theology?
Knowing God is Life – When we hear the promises of “eternal life” in the gospels, it is easy to think of quantity of life, i.e. thousands upon thousands of years of living. Jesus reshapes our vision of eternal life when he says in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Eternal life certainly is a quantity of life, but it also is a quality of life rooted in a relationship with our creator. To know God is to know more and more the truth of God and to experience him in relationship. To reject the study of God and his ways (theology) is to reject the quality of life that God has desired for us.
All of Scripture is About Christ – It has become common, unfortunately, to grow up in the church with a compartmentalized view of Scripture. There is the gospel story about Jesus and then there is all the other stuff about Israel, commandments, and the struggles of the early church, which are seen as secondary and unattached to the gospel. Jesus had a very different view of Scripture. He saw all of Scripture related to him and his mission (see Luke 24:27). We cannot say we love Jesus and ignore the kings, the prophets, and the priesthood of the Old Testament. Jesus is our King and our Prophet and our Priest. The Old Testament gives us greater insights into who Jesus is and all he does for us. Our delight and joy in Christ can only increase as we develop deeper understanding of him through the study of Scripture.
Loving God is More Than a Feeling – Perhaps it’s a problem as old as time, but misunderstandings about love still plague Christians. Emotions typically become king when it comes to feeling loved and expressing love. Studying a book on theology and letting your mind ponder the deep workings on God “feels” the furthest from love. This “feeling,” however, contradicts God’s call on us to love him with all our minds (Matt. 22:37). To love God with all our mind is to be vigorous in our thought life to study and understand God. Theology is essential for every Christian seeking to be faithful in loving God.
As we approach this 500th anniversary, I pray God would continue to reform his church to delight all the more in him, to understand all the more of his ways, and to be faithful all the more in following his lead.