Theological Thoughts to Encourage the Heart & Stir the Mind ___________________________________________________
Volume I May 2011 Issue 18
Every field of study experiences change in its thinking and application. This is seen in history and the findings of archeology. Medicine experiences the cure of diseases, only to battle the rise of new ones. Philosophy has seen the most and dramatic change over the centuries. Even with the sufficient Scriptures, Christendom is not immune to change in thinking. This manifests itself in the theological issues that arise and then flee.
For the Christian, it can be difficult to keep current with the flow of theological change. Every few weeks a new “form” of Christianity is displayed on the cover of Newsweek or Time. The shelves of Christian bookstores are never dusty with the movement of books; there is always the lasted and greatest promoting the new and improved. Many of these are easily recognized as false and opposite of what is found in the Bible. There are, however, those issues that do not seem so juxtaposed to one’s faith. There seems to be similarity and unity with only a bit of ambiguous difference. How is a Christian to know what to follow and promote and what to reject and run from? There are a few guidelines that one should follow when exposed to the continual change in the Christian world.
The first guideline has to do with ones understanding and commitment to the Word of God. When one is not grounded in the Word, it will be easy to be swept into false teaching. Not only is it important to know the Word, but also be committed to the study of Word. Constant reminders will strengthen when it comes time to stand firm. Knowledge of the truth will result in recognizing the false.
The second guideline takes the study of the Word and uses it in a practical way. Does the new doctrine, teaching, or idea line up with the Word of God? Are there similarities between the new idea or theology and the Bible or are they polar opposites? This is often an easy answer when looking at other faiths. However, when Christianity “proves” these views with Scripture, it can be hard to refute and understand. It is important to place the doctrine in the context of the supporting passage. This is oftentimes neglected by the false teacher, but is the easiest way to determine its truthfulness or not.
The third guideline looks at the application of the teaching or idea. The first question to be asked is, “does it glorify God alone”? This is usually a simple yes or no answer. From here the idea can be rejected or accepted. There are also certain areas that teachings affect. These areas include, but are not limited to sanctification, evangelism, Church polity, holiness and righteousness, and worship.
This months topic is entitled, Current Theological Issues. We will look at four theological issues that are gaining great popularity in the Christian Church. We will see both ends of the spectrum. Some are very conservative in their application and interpretation while others are extremely liberal. Some are a resurgence of old doctrines that are experiencing a growth that is both negative and positive. Others, however, are new ideas and thoughts that look more like mysticism. Whatever the issue, they have experienced changes and are changing the way many Christians live and worship. The desire of the authors in this series is that you will gain better understanding of these issues, as well as learn to recognize and respond properly to others.
John A Frey III