Theology Doesn’t Just Think

“Theology doesn’t just think; it walks, weeps, and bleeds.” -Russell Moore, preface to The Gospel for Life series

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It’s not “about us,” except for when God says it is…

I was thinking today about how theological slogans can become abused to the point of becoming untrue. Today, I was thinking about the criticism that the mere preaching/teaching of the ethical sections of Scripture automatically means making Christianity “about us.”

In the broader history of Reformed theology that viewpoint is called antinomianism, and has never actually been countenanced in the Reformed confessions and catechisms.

But it did get me thinking about what needs to be present in a sermon or lecture to avoid a legitimate charge of making Christianity “about us.” Here’s me taking a stab at it:

  1. The lecture/sermon needs to connect the ethical teaching to the Gospel, wherein the Gospel is shown to be the source of strength that enables us to obey the ethic.
  2. The ethic should not be preached/taught as a way of securing salvation before God.
  3. More subtly, when our hang-ups about making Christianity “about us” lead us to the place where we won’t let God in his word address us about ethical questions that he wants to talk to us about, we actually have made Christianity about us. Why? Because that means God’s revelation speaks to an issue, but we are forbidding that teaching to be given because of an irrational fear in our hearts. In that moment, the fear (about Christianity being “about us”) has become the real God in our heart, and the true God has been forced to be its servant.

Change is in the Details

“When you get to know a person well, you know both the panorama and the details. But biblical change walks out in the details. The patterns, themes, and tendencies of our lives are what we see when, figuratively, we view our lives from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. From one hundred floors up, Manhattan and the Hudson River spread serenely before you. But the action and noise of life happens at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, and when we take the Lincoln Tunnel home to Hoboken. The big stories of our lives are worked out in a running series of small scenes. This is how God has made it to be, but this is something that counselors and preachers often don’t understand. When you counsel (or preach) in great and good generalities, people will nod, but they rarely change.” -David Powlison