Welcome to the Crawl
Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group. Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!
The Big Question: What is the relationship between theology and the Bible?
The Main Questions
- How would you define “theology”? What is it? Who does it? Why does it matter?
Look at the types of theology in the section below. Answer the following questions:
- Which of these types do you typically think of when someone says “theology?”
- What types do you find interesting, and what types do you find confusing/troubling?
- Is the Bible the sole source for theology? If yes, how so? If no, what other sources are there?
- Is the Bible just a source of theology or is it the measuring rod for theology? In other words, does the Bible have a unique relationship to Christian theology compared to other sources of theology? Why or why not?
- Can a theological idea be “biblical” and not be found in the Bible? For example, the Trinity is a longstanding Christian doctrine, but the idea and concept is not found directly in the text.
- Does a single “biblical theology” exist? Why or why not?
TYPES OF THEOLOGY
Natural Theology // Knowledge about God which is derived primarily from nature. Natural theology usually places a heavy emphasis on reason and philosophy.
Biblical Theology // Knowledge about God which is derived primarily from the Bible. The structure will often be arranged around major events or people of Scripture (e.g., Theology of the Prophets, Theology of Paul, etc.)
Historical Theology // Knowledge about God which is derived from studying the development of ideas over time. The structure will often be arranged around the major periods of history which brought changes to theology (e.g., Theology of the Early Church, Theology of the Middle Ages, etc.)
Systematic Theology // Knowledge about God which attempts to incorporate and combine all of the theological sources above. The structures is often arranged around major topics or categories of ideas which theologians have agreed upon over the centuries (e.g., Christology, Ecclesiology)
Dogmatic Theology // Knowledge about God which includes everything above, but with an emphasis on those teachings and ideas which have the authoritative stamp of approval from the church.
Practical Theology // Theology which is built upon any of the previous types of theology, but which emphasizes the practical ways of living out these ideas in our own lives today.
The above taken from Jeremy Myers, The Different Types of Theology
- I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word. // Psalm 119:15-16
- This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. // Joshua 1:8
- Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. // Acts 17:11
- Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. // 1 John 4:1
- but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; // 1 Peter 3:15
Thoughts from Others
- What has Jerusalem to do with Athens, the Church with the Academy, the Christian with the heretic?… After Jesus we have no need of speculation, after the Gospel no need of research. // Tertullian
- The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. // Søren Kierkegaard
- Theological formation is the gradual and often painful discovery of God’s incomprehensibility. You can be competent in many things, but you cannot be competent in God. // Henri Nouwen
- One can be a brilliant theologian without being spiritual, and one can be spiritual without being much of a theologian // Don Stewart
- We can no more abandon theology than we can abandon God, since theology is involved in some fashion whenever we think or speak about God. Consequently, every person is a theologian. The only question is whether we will be thoughtful, responsible theologians or irresponsible ones. // David W. Congdon and W. Travis McMaken
- Theology is the grammar of the Christian faith. // Brandon D. Smith