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, grab 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 section below titled “Sources of Theology.” Are any of these sources surprising/troubling to you? If so, why? If not, why is this so
  • How would you define “divine revelation”? How does divine revelation relate to the Bible?
  • Are there other sources of divine revelation? If so, what are they?
  • Should the Bible be thought of as a “source” of theology or 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.
  • Look back at the section below titled “Sources of Theology”. How would you relate the Bible to the other aspects of the quadrilateral?


First described by Albert Outler, the Wesleyan Quadrilateral is a shorthand way of talking about the sources of theology. Outler argued that John Wesley’s theology was formed through a dialogue of Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason. Each of these facets, however, had their own level of importance and role in the formation of theology.

Today, the quadrilateral is generally used as a way to describe the source of any theology. Though everyone makes use of these aspects differently, every Christian theology is sourced by Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason.

Important Scripture

  • 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
  • Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. // Jeremiah 15:16
    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
  • To preach the Bible as ‘the handbook for life,’ or as the answer to every question, rather than as the revelation of Christ, is to turn the Bible into an entirely different book. This is how the Pharisees approached Scripture, as we can see clearly from the questions they asked Jesus. For the Pharisees, the Scriptures were a source of trivia for life’s dilemmas. // Michael Horton
  • I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible. Take all of this Book that you can by reason and the balance by faith, and you will live and die a better man. It is the best Book which God has given to man. // Abraham Lincoln
  • 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
  • The foibles, inconsistencies and humanness (of the Bible) all the more show us that the letter of the Scripture is not to be enthroned as an idol to be worshipped of itself. The letter will always kill. It is the spirit which God has breathed into his holy instrument, the spirit of his high Logos, this Word, that transmits its life to all those who obey it. // Michael Phillips
  • Were we allowed to read the Bible as we do all other books, we would admire its beauties, treasure its worthy thoughts, and account for all its absurd, grotesque and cruel things, by saying that its authors lived in rude, barbaric times. But we are told that it was written by inspired men; that it contains the will of God; that it is perfect, pure, and true in all its parts; the source and standard of all moral and religious truth; that it is the star and anchor of all human hope; the only guide for man, the only torch in Nature’s night. These claims are so at variance with every known recorded fact, so palpably absurd, that every free, unbiased soul is forced to raise the standard of revolt. // Robert Ingersoll