What is God like? Who is God? Ever wonder about God?
Well, theology is how we answer those questions.
As noted in etymology, theós means God & logos means knowledge or in other words knowledge about God. Hence theology is the study of God.
Each fact & idea derived from God’s actions & relationships contribute to our understanding of who God is.
For example, God flooded earth due to the evil heart & corrupt ways of mankind ( read Genesis 6:5 ). From this fact we know that justice is a characteristic of God.
Unlike religion (solely concerned with human practices of worship as derived from sociology & anthropology) theology is focused on God, unconcerned with the religious practices of people (like prayer or communion).
Once viewed as a noble study though not today.
Just mention an attribute of God & you’re surely to be frowned upon.
That’s because the baggage theology carries is so heavy in the west that some people have gone as far to say that true theology is unattainable, or that understanding who God is… is impossible
I know, you’re probably thinking this is what you get when depraved atheists and agnostics dominate cultures.
But guess what, to our surprise it’s not even atheists pushing this ideology, its so called “Christians”.
Disagree? well see for yourself, check out this comment from christianity.stackexchange.com
“I’ve seen a few people casually write about how they know God’s character—the features and traits that make up His person or existence—yet I’ve always been taught the opposite (that we can’t possibly comprehend his true nature)”
“I like to think of God as more complete than the universe itself, not some bearded guy in the clouds; something that cannot be named or defined, shaped or molded by mere words.”
“I would say this is a common view in my area (Boston, MA, USA). Are we just a minority who thinks this way? Can we really know anything about God’s character?”
“even if the Bible was written directly by God, we could never really prove that it was more than what He wanted us to think about him, rather than how He really is”
Liberal Theology & Its Issue
Apparently he’s a Liberal. What do I mean by liberal? Well…
The term liberal can mean anything from being a free thinker to being a proponent of the latest ideology in pop culture, but liberalism in terms of theology refers to a specific movement in the 19th century that divided Christianity.
This Liberal theology presupposes a philosophy called modernism or naturalism, which claims reality can only be explained in natural categories or without any appeal to the supernatural.
Liberal theology denying everything described as miraculous or supernatural led the dual attack on the doctrines of Divine Inspiration & Authority of Scripture-saying that the bible could not have been spoken by God through men; so to them the bible is merely the words of men having no more authority than your own thoughts.
Oddly enough the fundamental problem with this theological baggage is its origin itself being in human ideas which is explicitly denied by scripture itself 2 Peter 1:21.
This ideology completely undermines definition by replacing God’s objective revelation for human thinking which is untrustworthy to begin with.
Theology Is Objective
We study God by observing his actions, which are found in both nature and scripture (natural revelation & special revelation), revealing his attributes, character, & personhood as well as our own nature & relationship to him.
This study is key because He alone makes us complete 2 Timothy 3:17 being the foundation of life and every good thing Psalms.37:4. God’s objective communication is definitive in theology & replacing human thought with revelation is not sound theology.
Theology vs Liberal Theology
By re-defining theology with personal preference people are lead to the same conclusion the gentleman above was lead to:
The ultimate difference between liberal and sound theology is that one trusts inadequate human wisdom & the other trusts God.
If the quoted person trusted God then what scripture says would be the final authority.
His authority lies in a human philosophy that denies that God could even communicate supernatural trues to us. This is why liberals view their personal thoughts as equal with scripture, so when he comes across a doctrine that doesn’t fit his preference the Bible is unreliable in his view (or he must at the very least eisegete the text).
On the other hand, if you’re a liberal christian that rejects the idea that human wisdom is corrupt or inadequate let me inform you that the bible certainly teaches that we cannot trust the ideologies of natural man “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Romans 1: 18
Better yet remember the text quoted above (Genesis 6:5)
The Queen of Sciences
Since God cannot lie or contradict himself 2 Timothy 2:13 each fact is complimentary and consistent with every other fact, making theology systematic as other sciences (hence systematic theology).
But this science of God is no mere discipline.
Theology is traditionally known as the Queen of the Sciences since beliefs about God are presupposed in science. That is, science requires assumptions.
Since God is the sovereign creator of heaven and earth Colossians 1:16-17 he’s also the source of ultimate truth. Theology is then the foundation of all truth within the scientific disciplines.
Your beliefs about God (or whatever you may have replaced God with) are axioms that tell you how to view the world, making your personal beliefs a lens for interpretation & a starting point for conclusion.
This is how 2 people can observe the exact same evidence yet have 2 completely different conclusions.
Theology big or small dictates ethic and moral values, entire points of view, political stances, even what-you-do and how-you-do it. Much thanks goes to Sproul for my explaination of liberal theology, checkout this snipet below.