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Featured Describe your Theological method

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by dms1972, Jul 29, 2020.

  1. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi,

    I am finding my head is full of theological ideas and I am struggling a lot to know how to filter it all, and to avoid ideas that are erroneous or deficient. I suppose my reading of theology is part of my own search for truth and to be able to function and live it out.

    My experience is that I have often found much that I think is of value in theologians that theological prejudices of others would have cautioned me against looking into. Finding someone who can truely understand where I am at and guide me in my reading is so rare, when people suggest anything they just suggest what they are benefiting from reading - which might well be completely irrelevant to me.

    In any case please share or describe if you will your own theological method of study if you have one - I mean how you came to hold any theological positions you may hold, to what extent you pray about theological matters, whether you discuss with others or figure it out by yourself, read widely or narrowly, compare and contrast etc.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
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  2. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Calvinism VS Arminianism Comparison Chart by L. Boettner This will help get you started. Click on the picture to enlarge.
     
  3. Aussie Pete

    Aussie Pete Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If God wanted us to have a systematic theology, He would have laid out the Bible accordingly. The Bible is a spiritual book for spiritual people. Lord Jesus gave us His Holy Spirit to lead us into the truth. Paul prayed that believers would receive the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. We need this in order to know what the Bible means, not just what it says.

    I find that following a topic is much more valuable than plucking a verse out of the book and turning it into a theology. For example, the "prosperity" gospel can be most deceptive. If we know the Bible, we will know that riches can be deceitful. We will know that those who pursue wealth can fall into a snare and that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. We will also know that God promises to meet all our needs. We will have a balanced understanding instead of a distorted view.

    Another example: I've heard a great deal about faith. I've not heard nearly so much about patient endurance. Faith and patience are very much linked. Emphasising faith alone is like an athlete working on only one muscle group. It leaves people weak in some areas.

    I've read a great deal. Some of it was worthless, some what I needed at the time and some is eternal truth that is foundational. We need the Lord to show us the truth in what we are reading and it's spiritual value. All truth leads us to Christ, who is the Truth. If what we read does not lead us to Christ then we need to question its worth.
     
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  4. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Trust God to do what He wants with you.

    He is creative; so how He has you learn theology could be unique; but He has us sharing as His family; so He likely will have you sharing with others while you learn . . . in church, in groups, here with us :)
     
  5. bling

    bling Regular Member Supporter

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    The biggest issue I have is with my motive for studying.

    I want to be the one who improves “you”, I want to be perceived as being very smart, I like putting you down, I like to be very intellectual, I search for support for my conclusions, I do not waist my time considering other alternatives, but do search for issues with other alternatives, I am proud and do not want to change.

    We are not going to learn it all, so we have got to be selective and have an excellent reason for studying. This is not just a game, but people’s lives are on the line especially my own.

    Find people needing real help and get involved with them and I do not mean in some intellectual study, but their life. This takes time, effort, time, commitment, time, help from God, time, opening yourself up, time, and you have got to change/grow.

    Try to quit going to commentaries and books to find or support your conclusions. Find something you really need to know to help you take the next step in your Spiritual growth, go to scripture first, look for the context, find all the scripture which might be applicable, think about it, repeat reading it, pray, meditate, fast, wait for God’s help, discuss with like minded friends, allow it to change you and if it is to help someone else guide them in finding the answers, without giving them your conclusions and see if they agree and how it changes them.
     
  6. mkgal1

    mkgal1 His perfect way sets me free. 2 Samuel 22:33 Supporter

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    For me, having a big picture idea of the entire biblical message has been helpful for me. I believe it all has to fit within the fact that "God is love ". With that general framework, IMO, it's easier to know what to reject (penal substitutionary atonement theory, for instance, doesn't fit with "God is love").
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
  7. 1213

    1213 Disciple of Jesus

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    I think best way is to always remain in truth and don’t mix interpretations with direct words. Interpretations can be wrong and often they lead people away from truth.
     
  8. Francis Drake

    Francis Drake Returning adventurer.

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    For decades now, I daily ask the Lord for wisdom, and I find he never fails.

    The bible was never intended to be understood by the human mind alone, but by the Spirit!
     
  9. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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  10. Jok

    Jok Active Member

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    I enjoy getting those fairly short books that will pit a few views against each other, where each position is taken up by a prominent scholar of that view (yet they are all believers). Or more technical commentaries, like NICOT/NICNT and Pillar, because they fairly present the case for various opinions, and the authors don’t straw man the opinion that they disagree with. These commentaries are quite an undertaking! These authors could spend several years composing a commentary on just one Biblical book.
     
  11. honey badger

    honey badger i am

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    do not lean on your own understanding ....
     
  12. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Not really. Calvinism = God saves you. Arminianism = you save your self. What else is there?
     
  13. Francis Drake

    Francis Drake Returning adventurer.

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    That is a grossly dishonest comment.
     
  14. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You could get accused of plagiarizing my diary!

    One thing that has helped me is to not only be trying to show off what I know. If we study theology, for what? What do we plan to do with it? What do we try to do with it?

    "Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies," we have in 1 Corinthians 8:1.

    "And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know." (next verse > 1 Corinthians 8:2)

    This scripture can help you to do your study the right way. God's word has things for doctrine, but also for correction so we use what we learn the right way.

    I personally believe there is love meaning for every scripture. Any scripture can be used by God to help us to love. But, of course, this means first to love God.

    And in another post I plan to talk about how we need to find out what God's word says about love.
     
  15. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Here is a sample of how I get theology of God's word. I am simply noticing things of how one piece of God's word can help me to benefit from another part, and apply this to how I understand and see other people and myself and discover how God wants us to become and to love . . . instead.

    The Bible says God loves us. And so He sent His only Son, Jesus, in order to save us. So, yes we were condemned "already" (John 3:18) in our sin . . . "deserving of death" (in Romans 1:32). And so, God in His love has evaluated how we were and therefore we needed to be rescued. And so,

    "Christ died for our sins," we have in 1 Corinthians 15:3.

    "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." (in 1 John 2:2)

    So, God in His love does evaluate and judge. But our Father sent Jesus to rescue us and get us adopted to become His children. Jesus in Acts 26:18 says He is sending our Apostle Paul to turn us "from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God". So, God has been judging according to all He knows is really true.

    Also because He loves us, He corrects us > Hebrews 12:4-14 > God does not leave His own children uncorrected; because He does love us.

    So . . . if you study theology, you will find how people can say God loves us and so He does not punish us or judge us. But there are scriptures which mean to me that God's correction is not merely punishment. And people can keep on suffering in their problems, because they reject how God does evaluate and correct His children.

    Ones can say, "But God does not punish His children." But real correction is not only punishment, but Biblical correction means how our Father changes our character so we live and love His way. I offer this is the correct understanding of how Hebrews 12:4-14 says our Father corrects us.

    And from this you can get a love lesson for how you practically love people. Yes, we need to judge right from wrong, so we can help people find out how to love. We love our children, by making sure they know what is wrong so they do not do that stuff, themselves. But only punishing and rejecting a person can not change him or her into a loving person!! Just judging and criticizing a wrong person does not change the person's character which makes the person able to sin and keep on deeply suffering.

    But God's word tells us what does work. God's real correction in His children changes our character so we share with Him in His own holiness and His love's "peaceable fruit of righteousness". So, instead of arguing with a wrong person, you can say something is wrong, but also encourage the person with all that is so right, instead - - - of how we can be sharing with God in His own love with Jesus Christ's "rest for your souls." (in Matthew 11:28-30)

    And be His example. God uses example; however we really are inside of us, this is what can spread to make others the same way, including in our children.

    So, we have to make sure our children know what is wrong, so they do not get into that stuff which is anti-love. In people's self-seeking stuff, even if activities are ok with society, and even might not be obvious sins, still in selfish stuff a person stays deeply degraded so he or she can keep on deeply suffering different kinds of problems and fool oneself into wrong choices for relating with people so he or she can keep getting hurt and keep on suffering. And weakness for selfish pleasure can moonlight as weakness for deep spiritual and emotional suffering. And God knows this; so He has told us what is right and wrong . . . according to what He knows :)

    But Jesus gives us "rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-30) while we trust and obey Him. And Jesus will guide each of us personally, if we are His "sheep" > John 14:1-30. And while we obey how God rules us in His peace > Colossians 3:15 > "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus," we have in Philippians 4:6-7.

    And this peace is "the peace of God" > not only some nice feeling which comes with our own human efforts at self discipline and self help. But God is almighty; so this peace is almighty to guard us from cruel and chaotic emotions and feelings . . . while we obey our Father in this peace >

    "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful." (Colossians 3:15)

    Because God indeed is love, then, He personally so cares for us who obey how He takes care of us. He is not merely distant, then, and impersonal. And you can see, here, how knowing God is almighty, in your theology, can have such an important application in your heart and mind, because of how His almighty peace guards you and keeps your heart and mind sound. And this can help you to see what people need . . . not only proving your ideas, or judging people and looking down on them. But have hope of all which God's word guarantees He does with us His children.

    But there are people who argue how God loves us "unconditionally", and therefore He never judges us or punishes us. But then they keep on living the wrong way, not evaluating, on and on suffering and isolating themselves with pleasures and people they try to use to make themselves feel better. And ones can scream that God and people hate them, by saying they are wrong.

    But > possibly you can see how God's word does strongly confront various wrong things, but along with such confrontation there is a very good encouragement to all God would share with us, instead.

    For example, God's word does say >

    "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (in Romans 3:23)

    This indeed condemns how people have not lived God's way. But with this confrontation is indication of how God does not want us to be short of His own glory! So, there is such an encouragement here > how God wants all humans to share with Him in His own glory! Yet, it seems a number of people merely use this verse either to self-rightously criticize people, or to even accuse God of being unloving.

    Indeed, ones will say, oh God loves us unconditionally, and with this they claim He does not criticize or punish anyone. But God has loved us, by sending Jesus to so suffer and die for us, that we may have eternal life. And the benefit of this comes with His correction, which requires His own inspection by His standards. And Jesus died with this hope for any person > love "hopes all things" (in 1 Corinthians 13:7).

    So, yes Jesus in His unconditional love has so suffered and died with hope for any evil person, at all. But humans need to obey this, in order to benefit from this.

    Plus . . . how Jesus so loves us unconditionally is our example, which is also required of us >

    "And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." (Ephesians 5:2)

    So . . . yes "God is love" (in 1 John 4:8&16), but He is our example of how we need to become so we may spend eternity with Him >

    "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)

    There can be a lot of theological discussions which can take your attention elsewhere. Ones can pick and choose about words, but our character can be our dictator taking us.

    But God is almighty, and spiritual enough to do with us all He means by His word, in spite of how we can fool ourselves. So it is wise, then, to first trust in Jesus and how God is able. And if we have trusted in Christ > Ephesians 1:12 > His word is guaranteed to succeed in all God Himself understands and experiences His word to mean > God is the One who proves Himself in us, like this >

    "'So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
    . It shall not return to Me void,
    . But it shall accomplish what I please,
    . And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.'"

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Isaiah 55:11)

    So, please be encouraged, that God's word is not limited to how we might try to get ourselves to do it; but this is about how God in us is able >

    "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)

    So, you can see there are scriptures to help encourage you to all He means by theology you might study.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
  16. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

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    Sometimes I think we over-complicate it.

    "At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18: 1-4​
     
  17. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Unless you know what the historic church taught, you do not know theology.
     
  18. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My reason for reading commentary is not to find primarily to find support for my own opinions but to stay in touch with the church historic at some point. I don't look for confirmation I prefer to find something that 'corrects' me, or broadens or deepens my understanding.

    I like William Barclay, even though he seemed towards the end of his life to question whether the miracles happened literally as described in the Bible. I'll save that for another thread.

    He loved the historical background of the New Testament, and by that I mean he helps the reader as well as any I have read enter the world of the New Testament, he has a good understanding of the culture of that time, and practices and customs, he doesn't just approach a chapter of the Bible academically and he challenges the reader to make an application of it. So its unlikely I would part with the books of his that I own.

    As far as others I cannot see me getting rid of Calvin's Institutes even if I only keep them for reference, there are imporant differences between Calvin and English Calvinism that I need to understand.

    But there must be some use I can make of the rest I have gleaned along the way?

    In the meantime I think I might write a book review.
     
  19. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    :) What else is there? Really? Where to begin... With Calvinism alone there is are important differences between Calvin and Beza, and those are important for at least some people to understand. English Calvinism for instance historically is more heavily influenced by Beza through the influencial 16th century Cambridge theologian William Perkins. If one lives in America however, the Reformed theology is passed on I think mainly through Johnathan Edwards, rather than Perkins. This is not unimportant. Also one can hardly lump every non-calvinist in as an Arminian. To my mind Socinianism (which denies the True Divinity of Christ, the Trinity and the Substitionary Atonement) is much more pernicious than Arminianism.
     
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  20. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think it all ends back with Augustinianism vs Pelagianism. Grace VS works.
     
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