Christians make a lot of claims about their faith and religion. The heart of these claims is centered around the fact that we believe that the Bible is completely inerrant and infallible. The Bible makes radical claims, there is no getting around that. The claims of Scripture are both incredible and terrifying at times. What scares a lot of people about the Bible, and what draws a lot of ire out of a lot people, is the absolute claims made by Scripture. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say that Scripture sometimes comes across as having very stringent standards.
To that I would agree. But are these standards really restrictive? More importantly, is the Bible being given a fair chance when it comes to discussion both in the church and out of the church? Personally, I don’t believe that it is. That will be the point of this, and the next few Thursday blogs: to explain what the doctrine of Bibliology is, to explain why the Bible is accurate, why the Bible is trustworthy, why the claims inside it are trustworthy, and why you and I must do what the Bible commands. It’s going to be a fun ride, so bear with me.
Rules of Engagement
Before I begin really getting what exactly Bibliology is, I want to use this week to really explain the background of theology, and why we as Christians study it the way we do. The purpose of this is for you to genuinely go about understanding this issue with a desire to learn. With that said, let’s get started.
What is theology?
At it’s most simple definition, theology is the study of God concerning His works and His word. The word theos in Greek means God, and the word logos means Word/reason. There are other definitions to theology that might help shed light on this issue.
According to Charles Ryrie, “Theology is the discovery, systematizing, and presentation of the truths of God.”
Lewis Sperry Chafer defines theology as “the collecting, scientifically arranging, comparing, exhibiting, and defending of all the facts from any and every source concerning God and His works.”
Wayne Grudem says that theology is “any study that answers the question, ‘What does the Bible teach us today?’ about any given topic.”
Within theology there two different kinds of theology: Biblical, and Systematic. Biblical theology is the study of a specific writer or era. Systematic theology is a form of theology in which the aim is to arrange religious truths in a self-consistent whole. Simplified terms: systematic theology is the logical and rational categorizing of theology. The way that we get to these areas of theology is by sound exegesis. Exegesis means basically, to lead out, or draw out. In terms of theology or preaching, it means to draw meaning out of the text. To let the text do the explaining of the text.
Next, we must discuss what the necessary presuppositions are for theology. To get there, we must first define accurately what a presupposition is. This is so critical to understand because all people have presuppositions in one way shape or form. All people have biases, and starting points. A presupposition is a set of beliefs that are assumed or presupposed in advance. Literally, it’s a launching pad for our thoughts. It is the absolute foundation for how we interpret ideas. It’s a starting point, a foundation belief or assertion that is accepted without proof.
Now that we have an understanding of that, and that all people have presuppositions, we must now look at this question: What are the necessary presuppositions of theology? These three presuppositions are what colors the ideas of a theologian, and a Christian. These presuppositions are as follows:
1. God exists and He has revealed Himself to man.
2. That mankind can know and believe in God.
3. That the Scripture is the Word of God.
Those are the presuppositions of theology in a nutshell. That is the foundational nature of what exactly it is that Christians study. Theology is the rational study of the work, and Word of God. From here, I want to look at worldviews and how they color the perspective of all people. Once we understand this lens, and combine it with the lens of theology, we will be better able to understand why Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God.
What is a worldview?
How we live and how we think influences every decision that we have made. A worldview is the filter by which one lives (conduct of life and decisions) and explains existence. Simply put, it is the compass that guides us through our decisions whether morally, or not.
Norman Giesler states. “A worldview is how views interpret reality. The German word is Weltanshaung meaning a ‘world and live view,’ or paradigm.’ It is the framework through which or by which one makes sense of the data of life. A worldview makes a world of difference in one’s view of God, origins, evil, human nature, values, and destiny.” To change the way that someone understands anything that you think, you must first break down whatever worldview they have, or communicate the truth to them in such a way that their worldview is no longer the best option available.
Ronald Nash says, “A worldview is a set of beliefs about the most important things in life.” Everyone has a worldview whether they can articulate it or not. If someone is making a moral decision, they are doing it based off of their worldview. There are 5 key elements that are necessary to understanding a worldview.
God – He exists. He is one. He is immanent (personal). He acts. His nature is holy and just.
Metaphysics – God’s creation. God is the sustainer and holder of the universe. The universe is open, not closed. The universe exists within time and space, God exists outside of time and space since He is infinite.
Knowledge – Knowledge is possible about the world. We can trust our senses. Reason is an aid. Knowledge about God is possible.
Ethics – Yes there are absolutes. God determines reality. God determines what is wrong.
Humankind – Genesis 1:26-28. God breathed life into humanity. Humans are capable, yet directed.
It is within these 5 elements that we will learn how to understand theology. It is these 5 elements that color all the worldviews. With that being said, we will close by understanding what exactly the different worldviews are.
So what are the different worldviews? That question enough is easy to answer, but a harder question to ask is what can we do, and what can we know? Job 11:7-8 says, 7 “Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? 8 “They are high as the heavens, what can you do? deeper than Sheol, what can you know?
What are the issues this question raises? Hebrews 11:6 says, “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him.” We must believe something, in order to know something.
That statement then begs the question, “Does God exist?” “He who comes to God must believe that He is …”
An atheist says, “I know and the answer is no!”
An agnostic says, “I don’t know and the answer is I don’t know!”
A theist says, “I know and the answer is yes!”
When we fully employ what theology is, and what a worldview is, we will wind up at one of the following 7 options of belief in God. Where do you line up?
1. Atheism – No! God is nothing!
2. Pantheism – Yes! God is everything!
3. Panentheism – Yes! God is in everything!
4. Deism – Yes! God is out there!
5. Polytheism – Yes! God is many!
6. Monotheism – Yes! God is one!
7. Biblical theism – Yes! God is One in three persons!
When anyone studies theology, and applies their worldview, they will wind up at one of these 7 options. Therefore, the questions that I want you, my readers, to ask yourselves this week as I bring this post to a close is this:
Does God want to know me? Do I want to know Him?
It is the answer to these questions that very well could define you for the rest of your lives. Use this coming week to evaluate what your worldview is, and where you fall into in those 7 seven options. Next week we’ll get into what exactly makes the Christian worldview the Christian worldview. We’ll continue to combine these thoughts until we gain a quality understanding of what Bibliology and the doctrines that define it.
*Information used here is from several sources, but the majority is taken from my class notes from Mr. Tim Smith’s class on Bibliology.
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