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Featured Wondering about the worth of Theology.

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by dms1972, Aug 9, 2020.

  1. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Maybe its just because of how things are with me spiritually and mentally at the moment, but i really am wondering about the worth of studying theology, any more? I don't know what drew me to it to begin with and some other christians I knew were concerned of me getting into it. I guess I was feeling something had happened with my relationship with God, maybe I had drifted and I thought theology would help fix that. I suppose in a sense I went into it for the wrong reasons. Now I feel lost (though to be honest I have felt lost for years)

    The thing I find with theology is that a lot of it tends to be rather academic. And often it doesn't clarify what the Bible means. For instance I have been reading RT Kendall's Calvin and English Calvinism - while this is very well written and researched it still doesn't seem to tell the reader how Faith is to be understood biblically. It goes into great depth about how Calvin differed from the English Calvinists and Puritans in his understanding of Faith, and that Calvin may not have been a "Calvinist". It has excerpts from Calvins Commentaries. Fair enough I suppose that there is a important difference to make clear. But in the end who was correct in their understanding of faith? A lot of people talk as if faith is something we do, while others say it is a gift, its resting in Christ, its not something we can work up.

    Honestly I don't know what I am theologically - I might be pelagian, semi-pelagian, Barthian, bultmannian, lutheran, calvinist, or a hodgepodge of them all!!

    Another thing is Theology tends to skew how one understands the Bible, you tend to read it through your own theology.

    Is it impossible to believe in miracles today (as Brunner and Bultmann assert?). If it is then isn't the Resurrection a miracle? Bultmann interprets it as Christ was raised in the disciples hearts, not a physical resurrection. How does one become able to believe in miracles, in this day and age? How important is it to believe them literally? There are a those who would say Jesus didn't walk on the water, he was standing on a sandbank under the water, and that Jesus didn't really multiple two fishes and five loaves to feed 5000 people, what happened was he inspired people to share what they had brought. Is it ok to believe that, or must we believe them literally? What about the resurrection? This is all said to be the impact of the Enlightenment. Despite all my theological reading I am still finding it really hard to believe. The church isn't exactly always a welcoming place for people who continue to struggle with believing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2020
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  2. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Angels Team Supporter

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    Sometimes you can only appreciate something in its absence....

    I was raised Lutheran, there were many things that I did not appreciate of my heritage till I left Lutheranism and spent time with Pentecostals and non-sacramental Charismatics.
    I actually was inspired by that past to do a thread that is sort of on the topic.

    Anti-intellectualism and hostility to Theology


    And did another one that also kind of fits.
    The Proper use of Reason in Christianity
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
  3. Radagast

    Radagast comes and goes Supporter

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    Those why deny the Resurrection are not Christians. They are "of all people most to be pitied" (1 Corinthians 15:19).
     
  4. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The study of theology IS a good thing, provided you are studying good theology in the first place. And then doing it right. You can make a mess of your life studying theology, or it can enrich your path to God.

    And a big hint is that theology is best done on one's knees. Here is something from pope Benedict, actually a very astute theologian on doing theology on one's knees.

    Theology on One’s Knees, The Anchor, October 5, 2007
     
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  5. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    I find that some theology helps my faith and some doesn't. To me historical Jesus work is helpful, as is theology based strongly on that. I find more traditional theology interesting, but not personally helpful.
     
  6. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    First bible college I attended, I was immediately faced with heaps of questions.

    So I passed them all 'upstairs' and asked just for the answers He wanted me to know.

    Usually these answers came back down in a few days. If they didn't then I assumed that I didn't need to know.

    That didn't mean I didn't study well but my aim was for personal revelation - what the greeks called epignosis (total knowing)

    I have concluded that the selfish pursuit of knowledge for it's own sake is yielding to the temptation presented to Eve in the garden.

    Epgnosis presents a demarkation within you to share within the boundaries of what you truely know.

    I find that many brothers and sisters chase seminars and consume Youtube offerings but dont come to a deep peace about what they know. This leads to sharing with an assumed authority and running the risk being a 'word stealer'.

    "Therefore," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who
    steal from one another words supposedly from me. Jer 23:30.

    So my humble advice would be to prayerfully reflect on what you know that you know. and build again from there.

    This will allow you to build a seat of confidence and authority to share as He leads.

    The aim of the exercise is to be building with Him a resource of given knowledge that links directly to your personal calling to service.

    Forgive me sounds patronising or something but Satan doesn't want Christ to have effective servants but folks so stuffed full with 'facts' that they are rendered impotent in the process.
     
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  7. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    Compare any theologies with His Word ... His Word is the truth. Church doesn't save you ... Jesus does ... He is our example ... follow the Lamb.

    His Word is both literal and also very symbolic .... hard core literalists dismiss a lot of the metaphoric and symbolic meanings and therefore many times it will not make sense using literal application only.

    You come out of it by studying His Word for yourself and asking guidance from the Holy Spirit.

    Regardless where the teaching comes from .... it is this ....

    Acts 17:11
    Berean Study Bible
    Now the Bereans were more noble-minded than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if these teachings were true.

    Be a Berean ;o) Study His Word yourself!
     
  8. Radagast

    Radagast comes and goes Supporter

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    Indeed, the best theology brings one to one's knees.

    And it is worth noting that seminaries always mix theology lectures with devotional and prayer time.
     
  9. Jok

    Jok Well-Known Member

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    I agree with almost nothing that David Hume says, but I started to feel really good listening to a talk about his spiel against introspection, how it it the foundation of misery, how looking outward (getting out of your head) is so refreshing and it’s so therapeutic to the stresses of trying to figure everything out. I found it refreshing because I lean towards too much introspection myself (I think there’s a healthy balance).

    Since Hume came from a stressed out past which included a nervous breakdown I would assume it’s implied that he meant to say OVER introspection is not healthy (I mean since he was a philosopher it can’t make sense for him to say kill off all of your introspection).

    You should enjoy your theology material, or any study material. How about you just stop everything altogether, cold turkey, and then see if you are just sitting around in the near future and you all the sudden get the urge to WANT to study some of it? If you’re not enjoying it it’s not worth it! If you’re turning it into a task it will be a miserable time for you. I sometimes have to tell myself to shelf it for a bit if the joy starts waning and I start turning things into too much of a task.
     
  10. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I admit I have been influenced by Bultmann to some extent - I felt at one point (quite a while ago) it would be fair to actually read some of him and see if he was such a heretic. Unfortunately its rather difficult for me, I felt I made a considerable effort to actually understand what he was saying, but I cannot say I wasn't influenced in the process because not really having a standpoint of my own from which to critique his thought. I felt what he was saying was in effect what was going on in some sorts of preaching. For Bultmann Christ is present in the Kerygma which is basically an announcement of God's forgiveness or acceptance, but that preaching for Bultmann isn't a report. It doesn't offer any knowledge about Jesus. It is the Christ of the Kerygma not the the person of the historical Jesus who is the object of faith for Bultmann. Critiques of his thought say that he either contradicts himself, or that he contradicts the NT (Robert C. Roberts - Bultmann's Theology). It's often difficult to tell at first glance if these theologians are unorthodox - their thought is quite complex. In addition if one is already influenced by modern philosophy their thought often accords or fits in with that.

    "The New Testament research to which Bultmann fell heir was held firmly in the grip of Enlightenment ideas about knowledge and certainty and what can happen in the world. The methods and results which would be accepted as appropriate to scientific historical inquiry into the New Testament documents were determined by a Kant-like separation of the objective and personal worlds, the one world determined by inexorable causal laws the working of which was discernible through objective observation, the other the world of morality, religion, values, human freedom and responsibility." (Introduction - Bultmann's Theology)​


    Was Bultmann a christian?
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
  11. Radagast

    Radagast comes and goes Supporter

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    Yesterday I drank a bottle of cyanide to see if it was as much of a poison as they say.

    There are more beneficial things to drink and to read than cyanide and Bultmann.

    AFAIK, he denied both the Incarnation and the Resurrection, the two most fundamental Christian beliefs.

    What do you think?
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
  12. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would not say I was anti-intellectual, but I wonder if things have become too complicated. I bought a book on classical apologetics and in all honesty one would need to be very philosophically inclined perhaps to university level to understand it. Now it I am not saying it would not be helpful for some people but if giving a reason for the hope that is in you is for every christian, this book surely is beyond many christians as we are not all equally gifted intellectually, is giving a reason only for the intellectuals in the church. Then there are at least three schools of apologetic method - was all these critiques of others methods implied when Paul said be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in you?
     
  13. Radagast

    Radagast comes and goes Supporter

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    Yes, that's what apologetics is.

    Apologetics and evangelism are two different things.
     
  14. Jok

    Jok Well-Known Member

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    To give some perspective Paul and the other 1st generation believers were in the context of introducing a totally novel belief system that was to go out all over the world, a belief system that was just as foreign to people as if Paul was telling them about auto mechanics.

    I think it’s a mistake to conflate that command in that situation with today. So many people today know what Christianity is already and just don’t want it. But everywhere Paul went was a blank canvas, it was all uncharted waters. He was also of extraordinary debate skills and knowledge, even today people like him are a rare breed. I highly doubt that “Always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you” has even close to the same meaning for the atheist who is in their 58th argument with you as it did for Paul and an entire world who never heard of Jesus.

    Furthermore, being passive and just being willing to answer questions if you are asked is far more helpful than being preachy & pushy. You can probably actually witness a person’s skin crawl if you start going on the offensive with certain people. If people know what you believe, they already know what Christianity is, and they know you are easy to talk to if they wanted to, then you already provided the most favorable circumstances. Oh and don’t confuse the person who just loves to argue with Christians with making progress with someone lol.
     
  15. Bobber

    Bobber Well-Known Member

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    If it comes from the Father God and Jesus and the Spirit.....there will be simplicity. God has so designed his message that the simple, uneducated could understand....and he used simple illustrations and parables something that could relate to everybody.
     
  16. Radagast

    Radagast comes and goes Supporter

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    God has so designed his message that the simple, uneducated could understand the basics.
     
  17. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would say, yes - - how you are can indeed effect how you see theology, and how much it helps you . . . how you approach it.

    In my opinion, I can explain a lot of things the Bible is talking about. But what matters is if what I know is helping me to love.

    There is theology which has no application in our real life, except maybe it can be used to keep us in some group claiming the same ideas. We can agree on ideas, but even do nothing but show up on Sunday and drop in some money to pay for the building and people used to keep our ideas going.

    And there is theology which is practical, but ones can have bad practice based on their theology, while others can get what is good out of their understanding.

    For example, ones will tell you God loves us "unconditionally".

    But this can be applied in a very self-centered way, or so we get into loving the way Jesus wants. Ones might say, oh God loves me unconditionally and so I can sin and be wrong but God will forgive me and take me to Heaven, no matter how I am sinning or how I have become by the time I die, because Jesus died for me. And they might say they expect others to love them unconditionally, but such loving does not include helping them to get real correction. They expect to keep being loved, in spite of their faults, but they do not understand how God loves us and therefore corrects His children > Hebrews 12:4-14 > so we do not keep failing and suffering because of our faults.

    But I think the right way to see this is > God loves us unconditionally; and so this is our example for us to follow. The fact He so loves us is our example required also of us . . . kind of like how a loving father effects how the children relate with one another.

    And this example approach feeds into how I feed on the Bible. If I read Ephesians 5:2, for example, right away I am dealing with how God expects me to seek Him for real correction so I become loving like Jesus on the cross >

    "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)

    My opinion is that a self-centered way of understanding this verse would be that a person would see it as an ideal that they are incapable of living up to; and so they might just dismiss it, and not discover however this is possible with God in us.

    So, our theology can have us saying oh this is not possible for us, and then it is just an idea thing, or we can see scriptures and have hope to discover how we can share with God so He has us doing His word the way He means . . . with His love meaning of any scripture :)
     
  18. honey badger

    honey badger i am

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    ..., always learning and never being able to come to a knowledge of the truth.
     
  19. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    1st Thessalonians 4


    The Return of the Lord

    13Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who are without hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we also believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.15By the word of the Lord, we declare to you that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have fallen asleep.

    16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will be the first to rise. 17After that, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.

    18Therefore encourage one another with these words.
     
  20. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Evangelism is the work of a church, and those gifted in it.

    I have never really felt strongly about directing people directly to christianity. I prefer to if the conversation arises and I know them reasonably well to help them if I can to take what seems the next step for them, if I can guide them away from a cliff edge I feel I have helped, I leave the rest in God's hands and pray for Him to intervene on whatever their path is.

    In speaking about apologetics - there is too much time wasted disputing and reading about disputes between apologetic methodology - people should get on with their own approach and see what fruit if any it yields. In the end even its useful to know when and what method to use and with whom, its not that methodological approach in itself that persuades people, its the work of the Holy Spirit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2020
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