Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Light and Heat: Introduction

Reflecting on Theology as the Means of Worshiping God in Spirit and Truth

Upon a moment’s sober reflection, any honest thinker will admit that life is about finding the answers to ultimate questions. “Who am I?” “How did we all get here?” “What is the purpose and meaning of life?” “Why are things as the way they are?” Most foundationally, these questions are all theological questions; that is, answering them requires the study (-logia) of God (theo-)—the study of both who He is and what He has done. He is, as John Frame says, “the supremely relevant one” (Doctrine of God, 11), for He is the self-existent, self-sufficient Creator of all things (Gen 1:1) and does successively uphold all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:3; cf. Col 1:16-17). He is the One who assigns meaning to life—for it is by Him that life itself exists. So we look to Him for the answers to life’s most ultimate questions. "Who am I?" Well, we know ourselves to be creatures by virtue of His being the Creator (Gen 1:26-30; 2:7). "How did I get here?" Well, we look to His divine command as the answer to where everything came from (Gen 1:1-2:3; cf. Ps 33:6-9; 148:5).

And so it's fitting that we look to the Creator of life to discover the purpose of our lives. To ask why things are the way they are is to ask what God’s end, or aim or goal, was in creating the world as He has. The Scriptures teach us that the ultimate purpose of God in all that He does is to bring glory to Himself; for He declares that all who are called by His name have been created for His glory (Isa 43:7), and that He will not give His glory to another (Isa 42:8; 48:11). Indeed, as the Apostle Paul makes reference to His eternal decree and His working all things after the counsel of His own will, he repeats three times that His purpose is “to the praise of His glory” (Eph 1:6, 12, 14). Elsewhere Paul declares that even the exercise of God's wrath is to make known both the might of His power and the riches of His mercy (Rom 9:22-23). And He works out the entire drama of redemption and salvation unto the end that He be known, magnified, and glorified among the peoples of the world (Isa 43:7; Jer 24:7; 31:34; Ezek 38:23).

And so God’s will is to be known and worshiped by all of His creation. To achieve that end He created human beings to be worshiping creatures so that they might “honor Him as God [and] give thanks” (Rom 1:21). That's why we're here. That's why things are the way are. Therefore, if we are to live our lives in accordance with the purpose declared by our Creator, we must shape our lives around the pursuit of knowing and worshiping Him.

That pursuit is nothing other than doing theology. Over the next couple of weeks I want to look into the task of doing theology. How do we go about this process of studying the God of the universe? What undergirds a proper theological method? I'll attempt to answer these questions by insisting that doing theology is the means to worship. If our engagement in theology is to be Biblical, it must be driven by both light and heat, both spirit and truth, both by a commitment to think deeply and a commitment to feel deeply. As we will see, when one of these is abandoned in favor of the other, the ship has begun to sink, and the task of theology is almost irreparably sabotaged. And all of this is to be done in keeping with the purpose for which the universe exists: for the worship of the God who created us all.

I hope you'll read along.

Series Outline

Light and Heat: Introduction

1.1 - In Pursuit of Light: We Worship What We Know
1.2 - Systematics and Doctrine Matter
1.3 - Loving God with All Your Mind

2. In Pursuit of Heat: We Worship What We Know

3. Conclusion: Light and Heat, Spirit and Truth

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