The Goal of Theology

From time to time, people will say that some doctrines are learned just so you know the right doctrine (“doctrine for doctrine’s sake”). However, it was Augustine who said the goal of theology is not ever merely correct belief. The goal of theology is greater love of God and love of neighbor. This means that in all our pursuit of theological knowledge, two questions to perennially ask ourselves are: how does this amaze me with the reality of God, and how does it help me ‘lock in’ more with a committed life of service to those around me?

To be sure, those will not always be easy answers to uncover (ex: dichtomous view of body and soul), but they are the questions to strain after always, especially if you preach for a living.


‘Getting to Know You…’

“In biblical Hebrew, ‘to know’ means ‘to experience,’ not merely ‘to know about.’ -Bruce Waltke, An Old Testament Theology


Mission is the mother of theology

“Mission is the mother of theology.” -Martin Kahler

John Drury explains, “What he [Kahler] meant by this is that the early church first began to theologize (explicit reflection on its teaching) in response to the missional encounter of the gospel in new cultures. In other words, the early Christians embedded their claims into the language and mind-set of its pagan mission field in order to bring them into the fold. Such mission-driven theology can be seen at work specifically in the intertwining of Greco-Roman culture and the Hebrew Scriptures, first in an incipient form in the New Testament and later in the full-blown synthesis of Trinitarian and Christological doctrines.


Bavinck: On the ‘Central Dogma’ Thesis

“There is no room in dogmatics for a system in which an attempt is made to deduce the truths of faith from an a priori principle, say, from the essence of religion, from the essence of Christianity, from the fact of regeneration, or from the experience of the devout. For dogmatics is a positive science, gets all its material from revelation, and does not have the right to modify or expand that content by speculation apart from that revelation.” Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 1 p. 44


Theology Assumes that God Can Actually Be Known

“Theology as a particular science assumes that God has unmistakably revealed himself; in other words, it assumes the existence, the self-revelation, and the knowability of God and therefore proceeds from a highly significant dogma.” -Herman Bavinck


Theology is Theoretical, Practical, or Both?

Herman Bavinck discusses the development of Dogmatics (RD I.34-35). He says that with the Reformation, the practical side of the dogmatics started to shine through more. Dogmatics was concerned with “living for God through Christ, [and] religion, [and] the worship of God.” Modern liberalism pushed this too the extreme, and made it so faith was exclusively concerned with the practical, and without any fixed body of truths to norm it.

BTW NOTE: Reformed theology isn’t against being practical. It aims to keep a balance between theory and practice.