Theology I Lecture 03

Posted By on July 12, 2019

okay when last we met we were discussing we had just come to a definition of systematic theology and I provided for you a definition in bold print that reads as follows systematic theology is the comprehensive holistic interpretation of Scripture for the purpose of intimately knowing and rightly worshiping God and then I afterwards I give you an alternative definition which I I like and I but I chose not to use it mrs. Kevin van Hooser definition from the dictionary for theological interpretation of the Bible he calls it the cognitive and passionate enterprise that seeks to know and love the God of the gospel and to demonstrate its understanding in forms of obedience speech and practice and my last question to you was why do you think I chose not to use this definition and so I begin there okay there's an absence of a mention of scriptures that's fair yes okay okay there is not a mention of worship and I did I did make an effort to use that particular concept in my definition okay the main reason was what Brian just mention just mentioned that the he doesn't mention the Scriptures now if if dr. van Hooser were here in the room first of all he'd be doing the teaching but if he were here in the room and we were to ask him don't you think that scripture is important in theology he would say of course it is he would agree with us that that the scripture is our final authority or God speaking through the scriptures if you want to be that specific that that scripture is the the sole arbiter of determination of what is right and wrong as it relates to the knowledge of God and our doctrinal formulations he certainly would affirm that but he's choosing to emphasize other things in his definition and I like it for those reasons the cognitive and passionate enterprise theology is not about as I've said before stocking the bookshelves of your mind or filling your bucket at your mental bucket of knowledge it's not just about thinking it's about feeling and doing cognitive and passionate its goal as he uses the term seeks is to know and love the God of the gospel I really like the fact that he mentions the gospel in definition of systematic theology in my definition I'm tied to emphasize though the comprehensive and holistic interpretation of Scripture and if you interpret scripture from a comprehensive and holistic point of view then you will emphasize the gospel because the gospel is the central story of the Bible okay so I really like that about this and then he brings about the application of it demonstrating this understanding in forms of obedience speech and practice there's a sense of command there is a sense of imperative in systematic theology that what we learn here is something that chain Changez us something that transforms us something that makes us different in the way we live our life and think our thoughts okay so forms of obedience speech and practice so I like this but if we're going to talk about what about the nature of theology what it is I believe that it's most important to emphasize that in theology we are focusing our attention largely and submissively on the scriptures now in my definition I'm emphasizing comprehensive and holistic and that's to emphasize two different perspectives first of all comprehensive meaning all of it we're not going to spend we're not doing New Testament theology we are going to spend a significant amount of time in the Old Testament as well okay from Genesis to Revelation that'd be an interesting study I haven't surveyed my class notes to see if I reference every book of the Bible I'm pretty sure I don't but I don't think Haggai shows up in my syllabus anywhere so I have to think of a way to you know work that in there but comprehensive everything from Genesis to Revelation is Scripture when we get to the doctrine of inspiration sometime soon we'll see we'll remind ourselves that all Scripture is god-breathed everything from Genesis to Revelation so the book of Philippians is no more important to the Christian no more authoritative than the Book of Ruth now they have different functions okay they teach different things they play a different role in the overall meta-narrative of redemption that we see in scriptures but they are both god-breathed authoritative in air at Scripture and and as such they contribute to our systematic theology or systematic theology interacts with all of it okay so comprehensive means all of it holistic emphasizes the fact that there's a unity in Scripture that when we are interpreting the scripture broadly from Genesis to Revelation we will find as we do that that it is in coherent cohesive that it holds together and it doesn't contradict but one part doesn't contradict another part and seeing that that unity seeing that unity that that theological unity is an important aspect of doing theology okay how is it and what does it mean that the Old Testament and the New Testament emphasized different aspects of God's character or do they how is the Old Testament economy and God's relationship with his people different from what we see in the New Testament economy post Pentecost okay looking for unity continuity and the unity in the discontinuities as well in Scripture as we see revelation progressing we can appreciate how later revelation complements earlier revelation okay so doing theology is about understanding that unity that continuity discontinuity harmony and diversity in the scripture and understanding how it fits together okay and as we do that activity we we as we perform this activity of theology we are transformed we know God we come to know God better in in personal relationship God and me and I as a member of the community of God's people we together come to know God intimately and as we know him more rightly as we know him better we naturally if we truly know him better we naturally worship him better okay so worship is the end game of the activity of theology and the material of theology is the scripture that's the the fuel for the engine okay so that's an explanation of what I of why I wrote the definition that way okay it's got to be more guys it's got to be more than collecting organizing relating and displaying facts it's got to be more than that I'm not saying that it isn't that I'm just saying it's got to be more than that okay very good questions as we move from there yes holistic yeah holistic emphasizes pretty much what it sounds like that it emphasizes the fact that Scripture is a whole wh o l that scripture is is unified okay so as I'm interpreting scripture from Genesis to Revelation I will see the unity of it I will see the consistency of it I'll see the doctrine of justification in both the Old Testament and the New Testament although in the New Testament I have it in some great detail while in the Old Testament justification is less detailed I understand the Old Testament sense of justification better after I read Romans that's true of a lot of things the New Testament simply makes them clearer because and we'll talk about this when we get to the doctrine of the Trinity later in the semester because the coming of Christ is what the Old Testament looks forward to in various ways and so when Christ comes and God is you know the word is made flesh right God is human then things become a lot clearer we have more revelation more detailed revelation we have revelation perfected for us because God has come to us in the flesh okay so there is a unity and yet there's also a progression so holistic simply emphasizes the fact that Scripture is a unity is that it does that help okay other questions okay now I've been using the word theology and I least have been trying to avoid the word doctrine up until now if if if theology is pictured as the process doctrine I would like to picture as the product a doctrine is I'm saying a summation of a biblical theme that states a truth and calls for a response it's a summation of a biblical theme that states a truth and calls for a response if theology is about the comprehensive and holistic interpretation of Scripture then as I read the scriptures I was just talking about the doctrine of justification I will eventually be able to articulate a formulation of what justification is in the scriptures and I should be able to explain how that affects me what's what's the impact on the sinner okay so it states a truth and calls for a response if all it does is state of truth then you're studying bugs again if it doesn't call for a response if there is no I've started using the term worship value what is the worship value you know maybe may see we can come up with a new ism here Doxil doxological pragmatism how's that sound I'm a doxological pragmatist what is the worship value doxology okay what is the worship value of a particular doctrinal formulation we're going to talk about some things that are fairly abstract and even somewhat speculative in under the doctrine of God we're going to talk about God's relationship to time okay we're gonna talk about the doctrine of omnipresence or in men's City what is it what is God's relationship to space okay well there are ways of talking about that that have very little worship value I think there are other ways of talking about it that have great worship value to them and as it turns out the doctrines with the greater worship value I think are use the more biblical discussions more biblically driven formulations formulations that arise from a comprehensive and holistic interpretation of Scripture rather than a naturalistic rationalistic speculation on say God's relationship to time or space we'll work through that when we get there okay so a doctrine is a summation of a biblical theme it arises from broad study of Scripture summarises it by stating a truth and calling for a response I like here's here's van Hooser definition of doctrine instructions forfeiting participation in the drama of redemption that's a lot more poetic than mine and van Hooser zdevice in talking about theology is drama relating drama and and theology in some very useful ways but we won't get into in this class but for him a doctrine is instructions forfeiting participation in the drama of redemption so instructions there's something objective about it there's something that we get from revelation there is there's command involved there is there is a sense of imperative about it and that issues in a change in behavior participation in the drama of redemption and again it points us back to the gospel I like that so to summarize theology is the process doctrine is the product and a transformed life is the goal so as a pastor or an associate pastor a leader of a ministry you arrive in your ministry and you realize these people are now are not well instructed doctrinally and of course every body of believers needs to be instructed better in doctrine so what is that going to look like for you as the leader as the teacher the pastor the shepherd what's it gonna look like is gonna be like what dr. Swanson said even one of his examples this morning guy that sounded like he was getting up and reading hodges theology there's a lot of good stuff in hot theology but it's not exactly a transform transformational activity are the people that you minister to going to understand their instruction in doctrine as a vital aspect of their theological growth their spiritual growth their personal growth before God when they come to your theology class that you teach in Sunday school or on Wednesday night or you know Sunday night youth group or whatever when they come to your theology class are they going to leave there with a sense of urgency with a sense of imperative are they going to leave there with a sense that they've been drawn closer to God or they have been drawn or have they been drawn closer to Wayne Grudem hey you screwed em that's fine I mean yeah it's a great textbook that's why I'm using it for this class for mm a number of areas it's very helpful but and I know that this is his goal as well you can tell by reading the book that theology is not an end in itself so what does a balanced emphasis on doctrine and theology look like in ministry I could summarize it this way it must be the– eccentric and doxological what do I mean by that Theo centric means centered on God right that should be obvious with theology centered on God an effort to know God in the scriptures and personally doxological in the sense that it is oriented toward worshiped okay Theo centric and doxological and I could say for further explanation perceiving the glory of God that in the in the learning of theology in the doing of theology the learning of doctrine in wrestling through these issues in encountering the scriptures believing Lee I am weighted down with the glory of God I've added a little bit of a discussion in theology proper later on on the glory of God I came to the stunning realization about a year ago that I've been teaching theology one and not having not actually having a section on the glory of God that was a serious omission and earlier this summer I was in South Africa and professor Hargrove Carl Hargrove is a pastor in LA and he teaches here the introductory preaching class so you guys have all probably had him by now or you have him now he and I went to South Africa together as guest speakers for their for their Shepherds conferences that they have every year they have a series of three three-day conferences at different cities and it was toward the end of the trip and we had we both had an evening off we talked during the day and then in the evening one of the local pastors was doing the general session and so we were back at the we were staying in kind of a bed and breakfast a guest house and we had a kind of an apartment there and that had a living room and we were sitting there it was toward the end of the trip so we were both pretty tired and it was very interesting to have a discussion about the glory of God what is how do you define the glory of God and I came to some conclusions during that time that we'll talk about later in the semester but the glory of God part of the essence of the glory of God is that it is perceived by God's creatures it's perceived God is glorious in that we respond to his attributes into his revelation and that's part of what it means to refer to the glory of God God is glorified he is glorious toward or make glorious among its people as we do theology we should be perceiving the glory of God we should walk out of that experience or gradually through that experience we should be develop developing a perception of the glory of God the weightiness of God we'll talk about that and then grasping the beauty of God I may be a doxological pragmatist I'm going to stop saying that because I'm gonna tie myself up but we want to avoid a utilitarian view of doctrine okay we don't want to say okay well that's all interesting and such but what good does that do me okay what good does it do you to know that you know God transcends time and to understand some of the or at least to make some intelligent speculations biblical speculations about what it means that God is beyond time what good does that do me why why should we even argue about this you know there are two views and good men are on both sides what why should we out what good is that gonna do me okay be careful of a utilitarian view of doctrine on the other hand anything that helps me to know God better should draw me closer to him should make me a little more like Christ but as as I learned more about God I see the beauty of God you know David seemed to have a sense of this in Psalm 27 right the one thing that he asked of the Lord was simply to be close to God that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all might all of my days right all the days of my life that was the one thing he asked why would he ask that he goes on that I might gaze upon the beauty of the Lord to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple which means to pray to interact with God so David said the one thing that I really want is to know the true God personally to know him and the way he described that was with the words to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord we have to be very careful about a pragma you till eteri Anor crassly pragmatic understanding of theology that when the going gets tough we have this pressure valve that says this is to specula this is too difficult it's not going to do me any good anyway okay be careful of that so it must be Theo centric and doxological and it must be pastoral and personal pastoral and personal never just for forebear knowledge sake but prompting us to worship and again my contention is that bare knowledge is not really knowledge all if all it does is stock the bookshelves of your mind then it's not really knowledge so prompts the individual to worship so you see the pastoral side of that not only for you know not just you personally but how you lead your people they should understand that the study of doctrine that the doing of theology leads them to worship that it transforms their behavior the better they know God that differ the more different they'll be the more transformed the more the more transformational that experience will be a different you're a different person because you've come to know God and ultimately it should produce a conviction of the truth that when you have diligently studied God's Word or as you diligently study God's Word you come to a conviction that this is true and that is not and that leads us to our next topic which we'll get to in just a moment okay so doing theology systematic theology is about embracing the Scriptures as a whole or better embracing Christ in the scriptures as we understand the scriptures as we submit our minds and our hearts to the Spirit of Christ as he ministers to us through the scriptures broadly holistically comprehensively the result being the goal being the goal being greater Christ's likeness right first Corinthians three eight second Girly's 3:18 being transformed from glory to glory into the likeness of Christ okay so for all of those reasons doctrine is for everyone everyone is a theologian okay questions so far none I'll take that yes sir if you're not theologizing you're not maturing yeah yeah I think that's an accurate statement if you think about it discipleship good discipleship is growth in doctrinal understanding now remember what I mean when I say understanding I don't truly understand it if it doesn't impinge upon my life okay the John frame develops this in a really compelling way in an old book well I say it's old it's late 80s hermeneutics authority and canon a very creative and compelling title for a book that was joke hermeneutics authority in Canon is a collection of essays that was produced by a group of scholars under the aegis of I CBI I believe the International Council on biblical inerrancy so is back in the day when when inerrancy a particular view of inerrancy was the major battleground and this book was produced with a number of very important essays in it dia Carson Moyes a Silva Paul Feinberg several others but John frame has an essay in there called the spirit and the scriptures the spirit and the scriptures tremendous essay on the spirits work the scriptures and you could come to the conclusion from that that you know theology is is discipleship discipleship is a growth in understanding of doctrine as the Spirit works in our hearts to develop not just an understanding of what the words of the text mean but how they how they intrude into my life okay that's the difference what we'll talk about that under biblia you talk about the role of spirit and the authority of Scripture okay there's more to understanding scripture than simply understanding the words of the text the difference between a believer in an unbeliever in that regard is that the Holy Spirit is working in the believers mind and heart to take the meaning of the scripture into the the believers life to give the believer a sense of how this impinges upon his or her existence yeah yeah yeah right you mean practical theology like was on the slide yeah when I'm using the word utilitarian in a pejorative sense what good does this do me okay when I as a teacher when I hear a student say and I've heard this you know many times in my short teaching ministry when a student says why should I bother with this why is this important okay what they're saying is this is difficult I'm having a hard time understanding this and what good does it do me anyway okay that's really the kind of the thought process piece that's what I mean by utilitarian okay I prefer transformational it's practical yes but I want to avoid the bifurcation between meaning and application okay between truth and application if you understand truth that means you have applied it or you're in the process of applying it okay so that's that's the difference that's a good question thank you and that's what kind of a fine distinction I know okay the last bullet point here is that as we teach in ministry as we teach doctrine as we do theology or in seminary as we do theology we find ourselves convicted about truth that this is true and that is not in many many different points of contention okay seminarians love to take sides it's what we do sort of the bread and butter of our existence especially in the theology department and so I want to have a little discussion as it is in your class notes how do I handle doctrinal disagreement how do I handle doctrinal disagreement it is entirely appropriate entirely appropriate that as we and those that we minister to learn from the scriptures that we become convicted to the point where we defend one doctrine doctrinal formulation against another this is true and that is not it's entirely appropriate that's not going to work however that means we're going to disagree on some things that means especially that as you're doing this in ministry there are going to be disagreements there will be questions there'll be challenges there'll be criticisms how do we handle that what do we do I have I've never actually had this in class notes before but I have become vexed enough about how seminarians handle or fail to handle doctrinal disagreements that I think it's important that we study this that we think about this in the the beginning of our theological studies in prolegomena if theology doing theology is about being transformed into the likeness of Christ by submitting our minds and hearts to his spirit through the scriptures then the result of it should not be division and contention in the body of Christ doesn't it make sense so why is it that there's so much fighting and I'm using the term fighting there as opposed to disagreement okay we should be able to have healthy disagreements about certain kinds of things so in order to help us down that line it toward that goal I want to offer a series of questions and suggestions first of all as you think about a facing a particular doctrinal disagreement sometimes it'll be between you and a flock members sometimes it'll be between you and another elder sometimes it'll be between you and a family member that's not a part of your church sometimes it'll be between you and another local pastor with whom you share fellowship hopefully you'll have healthy friendships with other pastors in your area right now and not just Bible Church pastors or Baptists but also Presbyterians and other people who believe the gospel that you do and that that's a hint toward part of my remarks on this all right one of the I think the first thing you need to think about as you think how am I going to handle this doctrinal disagreement is think about the relationship you have with that person what is the relationship okay what is what is my relationship to this person is this person a member of the family of God is this a brother and sister in Christ why should I ask that question why is that important to ask okay so it will give me a certain perspective on my on the non-negotiables of our relationship okay I had some wonderful conversations the Lord blessed me ridiculously this summer with a chance to go to the Grand Canyon for a week of rafting the Colorado River 187 miles of river right through the Grand Canyon and it was unbelievable it was a trip that was put together in part by our own dr. Barrick and he was on the trip too and I have pictures of dr. Barrick doing very non scholarly things like you know jumping off of waterfalls and fun stuff which are available for a fee but it was a trip of Christian scholars and on that Devore about 25 about 25 Christians most of them were Christian scholars University and seminary professors some of them and and it was also sponsored in part by Answers in Genesis and a ministry called Canyon ministries and takes too long to describe but it was just a wonderful opportunity and we on the trip we had both professors people like myself who believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis yield at Genesis 1 and 2 yielding a young earth view of of the universe right there were also evangelical scholars on the trip who believed in a different literary interpretation of Genesis 1 2 that they believed was true but was not literal so they believed in an Old Earth ok so on that trip I mean we were stuck together right it's not and nobody can bail on the trip because they got mad at somebody we were stuck for seven days together far from civilization getting along with one another and it was great because at the beginning we acknowledged you know in in the group with the leaders involved in everything they we just brought it out in the open and said we have an we have a we have a disagreement in the group on an issue that we all believe is important but let's put it in perspective okay we're brothers in Christ okay and well I'll talk about that more in a minute so there was a there was a baseline for our relationship that we could have these discussions oh and as we're on the trip you know I realize I sort of made friends with another guy who is a you know covenant to list post millennialist you know Peter Baptist I mean a guy a Presbyterian guy who is you know fairly well respected and I mean we've got a lot of doctrinal disagreements and we had some really fun conversation together because we knew we knew that we both love the same Savior and we just have to really significantly different perspectives on the unit the continuities and discontinuities or scripture but we had it we had that relationship that's one reason why we need to ask this question what's another reason yeah okay if this is an unbeliever my goal is not to help them rightly understand super laps Arianism as opposed to infrared is 'm right what's my goal the gospel the gospel and see if that's the center if redemption is really the the the center line of my theology anyway then I can get there from any part of systematic theology can I if the question is about the order of the divine decrees I heard the Christians believe in super elapse Arianism I can I can get to the gospel very easily from what I think is a pointless discussion of the order of the divine decrees in eternity past very easily you know any won't get into how I would do that but from any point from theology proper there's so many paths to the cross you can't believe it Christology it's obvious pneumatology it's obvious home rd ology anthropology angelology ecclesiology eschatology every every Plitt from any point in systematic theology we can we can beat a rapid path to Calvary and that's our job if the answer that question is no ok so the first question is is this a brother or sister in Christ because that helps me understand the kind of relationship I have with this person okay secondly do you have spiritual oversight is this a person who's a member of your flock is this a person let's say the answer is yes this is a brother or sister in Christ the next question is are have you been entrusted with spiritual oversight over this person ok why is that question important okay but why is that why is that important what if I I mean shouldn't I have concern for someone who has an errant understanding of a particular doctrine they just don't happen to be a member of my church I should have a concern and a love for them to help them understand right yeah okay that's true I I am I will give an account for those who have been entrusted to my care that's true what is the potential what what kind of potential disaster can I create yeah okay yeah if they if first of all if they're a member of a you know of a church where the gospel is not taught again the question is are they brother and sister in Christ so on the assumption that they have a pastor who loves Christ and and preaches the gospel okay with that as a baseline I cannot get involved in breaking their relationship with their pastor okay and that's why it's very important if somebody comes to you with a you know a question about the sovereignty of God let's say the sovereignty of God in salvation and there you know Baptist or Methodist some sort of some sort of Arminian and I know there are Baptists lots of Baptists that aren't Armenian but the question is if they have a pastor who preaches the gospel then that pastor if he's a consistent Armenian he affirms the sovereignty of God in some very important ways that we have in common okay a classical Armenian affirms that salvation is all of God and all of grace so I want to affirm that with them and I can I can help to elucidate the difference that I have between with with their you know are many an understanding of God's grace and His sovereignty but I have to do that in a way that's very careful that I don't try to insert myself between them in their pastor I don't want to break their relationship with their past unless their pastor has taught something that is fundamental heresy something that is a gospel that does not save which is what that's how I use the term heresy okay so we have to be very careful if this person is not a member of our flock we have to be careful to affirm their relationship with those who have spiritual oversight over their souls and I'm afraid that this really goes against the grain of a lot of TMS students that I've met but their goal is to make sure that everybody understands their perspective on every doctrine and why what they believe is wrong okay we're kind of getting around some other distinctions or other questions we're going to talk about a minute okay so what kind of a relationship do you have is the first question secondly what is your goal what is the goal in in working your way through this doctrinal disagreement that you have what's your goal if if doing theology is about being transformed in the likeness of Christ through knowing God personally then the goal in entering into a disagreement with someone is not going to be winning the argument displaying your knowledge demonstrating your intellectual superiority over them what's the goal gonna be second Timothy to the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but be kind to everyone able to teach patiently and during evil correcting his opponents with gentleness no that's not in the Bible is it with gentleness guys so that God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth and so forth okay we are all about saying yep able to teach patiently and during evil correcting his opponents yeah I can do that oh really with gentleness with patience patience patience doesn't just mean you keep your voice down patience means you endure years with this person if you have two years years that's what patience is putting up with and well I'll get into that in a minute so the goal is not to win the goal is never to win guys if you have won then in a sense Jesus is lost because it means you've inserted yourself in front of him in the process okay well whose side are you on anyway you should be able to answer honestly I'm on Jesus side here and if that means I'm wrong then hopefully he'll correct me through what you have to say to me huh and that means that if Jesus can put up with you for another 20 years so can I the goal is not to win a debate the goal is to correct impatience the goal is to practice the truth in love let me see if I can help you a little bit from Ephesians chapter 4 now I'm not sure what version you're accustomed to reading here but let's say the ESV is more common translation here Paul says can you guys see that by the way the first time I've used this okay he's talking about maturity growing in maturity not being tossed about by every wind of doctrine and by by deceitfulness but rather speaking the truth in love were to grow up in every way into him who is the head into Christ okay so speaking the truth in love it's interesting though that the text here uses you know Alafaya is the the greek noun for truth right but here it uses that that root as a verb it uses so it's not just speaking the truth in love and that's why I went to the net Bible first practicing the truth in love doing the truth in love technically to take the the Greek participle a little more woodenly literal it would be true thing right but rather than being tossed around by different teachings we are to be true thing in love I don't know how many times I've heard this around here but my blood pressure spikes a little bit higher every time I hear it and it's not always in these words I have to exaggerate it just a little bit to make the point but sometimes love in an environment like this where where the teaching of truth is paramount as it should be sometimes a student will take that and adopt the perspective that the most loving thing that I can do for you is to tell you the truth you know when when confronted with you know your we should not be contentious about doctrinal disagreements we should be loving and they take that to mean we should compromise on what truth is and so they say something like well the most loving thing I can do for you is to tell you the truth and they end up using what they understand to be the truth as a kind of Club to beat people into submission that's not the idea that's not the vision that Paul has in Ephesians 4 it's we didn't in 2nd Timothy 2 either but doing the truth in love we will in all things grow up into Christ who is the head not just saying what is true but doing and being and practicing what is true also you have to be able to say along with Paul in 1st Timothy 1:5 now the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart from a good conscience and a sincere faith a lot of us tend to act like the goal of our instruction is conformity the goal of our instruction is superiority the goal of our instruction is power leadership no the goal of our instruction or of our charge is love now don't you think that your disagreements that your doctrinal debates are gonna have a slightly different tone if you take that seriously of course it will practice the truth in love that's the goal even in and especially in the context of a doctrinal disagreement whether it's within your own flock or with someone from another flock another pastor a friend that you happen to meet Christian friend okay that's the goal questions so far I'm not in trouble yet none of this none of what I've said so far not yet no nothing that I've said so far should be taken to mean that doctrine is not important that that conviction that I talked about is unimportant right when you're doing theology rightly it does produce conviction of the truth and you've got to do something with that in your life and in the lives of others as God as God grants the opportunity okay so truth is important and I don't want you to get the impression I'm saying doctrinal disagreements don't matter the question is you have to have the right perspective on it so that you know so that you have a plan for how to how to carry it out and how far to push it so the next question that I think you need to ask is what kind of doctrine is at stake what kind of doctrine is at stake and I've given you a link in your syllabus to an article by Dan Wallace a New Testament scholar who's done some tremendous work in in Greek and in the New Testament and this article laid out and and it's not even that I I'm not linking you to the article because I love his take on inerrancy his description of inerrancy but because within this article I've borrowed several principles from him on understanding getting some perspective on a doctrinal disagreement and and it he brings up the point you have to ask what kind of doctrine is at stake here what kind of a doctrine are we talking about because not all doctrines are created equal right is it heresy assuming you believe like I do in a pre-tribulation –all premillennial understanding of the end times okay is it heresy for someone to believe in a post-tribulation –all premillennial understanding or let's just say historic pre-meal historic premillennialism which is essentially post-trip that heresy is that heresy in the same sense that that areas denied that Jesus was fully God no if somebody claimed to be a Christian and denied that Jesus was fully God very god of very God would you treat him in the same manner and let's say he was treat teaching your people trying to persuade them this was that Jesus was not fully God would you treat him the same way as a guy who was saying you know that pre-trib stuff has some serious problems and I think that post-trib it really makes more sense would you treat that those two people the same way I hope not I hope not I mean if the second guy is creating huge division in your church you have to deal with him as a divisive person but clearly one person is unorthodox they believe a gospel that does not save that's different than having an errant understanding of certain details at the end times so what kind of doctrine is at stake the reason I borrow Wallace here is he he frames this in terms of questions and these are in your or different kinds of doctrines these are in your syllabus doctrines that are necessary for the life of the church necessary for the health of the church for the practice of the church and then everything else now these aren't hard and fast categories and we would probably disagree uncertain on which issues go where but doctrines that are necessary for the life of the church that's classic orthodoxy that's the that's the what's the term dr. McCarthy used the drivetrain of the gospel I think he used once that this is examples in your syllabus the deity of Christ the virgin birth the doctrine of the Trinity these are doctrines that if you understand them you can't deny them and call yourself a Christian okay so these are doctrines that are necessary for the life of the church the church is very existence depends on these doctrines okay it's the gospel now you can get into arguments about certain aspects of that message that well you know is this really necessary do you really have to believe in the resurrection answer is yes okay just read Paul do you really have to you know do you have to agree in the second coming yes you do well what about post what about preterists there are preterists that I believe are unorthodox full preterism is heresy because it teaches that Jesus has already come and that we are essentially as I understand it in the new heavens and the new earth which would be a tremendous disappointment that were the case but okay so there are certain things that if you understand them you cannot deny them and and be a Christian secondly doctrines that are necessary for the health of the church for the health of the church what about lordship what has become known as lordship salvation okay can people preach a non lordship gospel and have converts the answer is yes if you preach substitutionary atonement all and the the the the tenants of classical orthodoxy right you can preach the gospel let me put it this way I hope the people can be saved in a non lordship Church because as far as I know I was the church that I grew up in was a non lordship preaching Church still is but I heard the gospel very clearly very plainly very simply I'm a sinner I can't save myself Jesus died to take the penalty for my sins and he rose from the dead to be my Savior and my Lord and he's coming again for the final defeat of evil and to take his people to be with himself I understood that as a small child okay so however we have all seen I think maybe not all of us but many of us have seen the effects of a non lordship gospel that has consistently taught and lived out among a group of believers right it becomes can become a spiritually unhealthy place because the lordship of Christ is not exalted in the same way that it is I believe in the practical life in a church where the the lordship of Christ is consistently taught and discipleship takes place on that basis so there are doctrines that are that are beneficial or necessary for the health of the church I've got paedo baptism in the syllabus as well paedo baptism I would say and others of you know the non covenant Allah persuasion would say that paedo baptism promotes a sense of salvation in people who have been baptized as a child who never fully embraced the gospel they never embraced Christ because they feel like they're just in they were baptized their parents are believers and parents had them baptized and and of course good coven analysts say good confident let's have good answers to that but they can't deny that you know it it is it allows for or creates an environment where people can kind of grow up as nice moral pagans so there are others you could debate like spiritual gifts and I don't want to get into the any of these debates specifically doctrines that are distinctive to the practice of the church certain positions on spiritual gifts would be like this we have friends who are reformed charismatic right and that means that in their church they have certain practices in their worship services that if I was pastored the church I couldn't do that if I was a member of the church I'd be very uncomfortable you know when they have the prophecy you know when the prophecy mic is open and and that kind of stuff the it'd be hard okay so those are distinctive to the practice the church now good reformed charismatics they manage that very carefully very prayerfully very sensitively they don't just open the mic to anybody if you've ever been to a Sovereign Grace Church you would you would have seen that in action you know they can't just walk up and say I have a word from the Lord because the elder who's in charge of that mic is gonna say no you don't and we can have some fun discussion about how they know that and so forth but the point is that's a practice based on a doctrinal difference that separates us in terms of weekly worship we can gather together in fellowship we can edify one another personally we can be at conferences together and that's and we do all of that stuff around here but there are certain things that are distinctive to our practices and then there's everything else so you have to understand going into a disagreement what's going on here what kind of a doctrine is this that's at stake and if it's one of these lower order doctrines then I'm going to enjoy my brother or sisters company I'm gonna do my best to learn from them I'm gonna do my best to challenge them and we will continue to embrace each other as brother or sister and edify one another as we have the opportunity we may not be able to be at church together because you know certain doctrines will will keep us from doing that and practicing our you know practicing our doctrine we will still maintain a relationship okay so the question then is specifically what yeah okay yeah that's a good question first of all what I'm what I'm advocating here indicates that I think there's a kernel of truth in in what Olson is talking or grints is talking about and Olson does it too that there's a center that we gravitate toward and that's what we emphasize the problem is I'm just trying to be consistent with that I'm going to define what the center is and it's going to be some where up there between a and B okay Center are those things that are that are necessary for the life of the church and its mission and then beyond that I'll maintain relationships the question is not so much am I going to maintain relationships but how what's that gonna mean and and what kinds of relationships am I going to maintain okay they you know the further if you want to make it a left-right thing the further left you get on that post conservative post liberal spectrum the more anxious you are to have dialog with people who are way outside of your tradition liberals or even those interfaith dialogue okay so a guy like Brian McLaren who is all about interfaith dialogue I noticed he had a prayer for Ramadan on his blog this year you know part that being a good Christian sometimes means just helping a Muslim be a better Muslim you know that's that takes him outside of a that takes in that means he's denying certain doctrines that are necessary for the life of the church that means I'm gonna have a different relationship that's the relationship of a of a Christian to an apostate perhaps it's what it seems like to me anyway as opposed to a guy like let's see a guy like just to get back to the reformed charismatic movement CJ Mahaney or Bob Coughlin okay I can have great conversations with a guy like Bob Coughlin about worship about the the nature of worship a theology of worship the practice of worship even though the worship that he leads is affected by his belief in spiritual gifts that is different from mine we can and have embrace each other as brothers because we have so much in common and so it's I guess the answer to question is in carefully discerning you know the the the answers to these questions I can cultivate a love I can give it biblical language Ephesians 4 cultivate the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace because that takes place within the body of Christ so I can have those conversations challenge and be challenged and yet do that in a context of a family relationship that and that can be challenging there's no question that can be challenging but you know Paul's Paul's command to maintain the unity of the spear in the bond of peace and the other commands that I've talked about already here those are commands we have to take seriously in the context of disagreement the mutual submission in the body of Christ that's required in Ephesians 5 one of the best quotes of the year for me was just recently and it was so good I can't remember who said it on this idea of submission there's a mutual submission one to another Ephesians 5 right and the command wives to submit to your husbands is just one example it's a species of the broader command that we submit to one another in Ephesians 5 and I've read this just not too long ago it's it's not so it's not truly submission until you've disagreed about something because as long as you're agreeing about everything there's no submission required right it's not submission until you disagree then we find out whether you're submitting to one another okay so I can have a sense of submission as I'm talking with my coven endless friend that we submit to one another in Christ maintaining the unit these spirit the bond of peace and you know and he can ask me these provocative questions like no I won't repeat what he said but he asked me these provocative questions that honestly are good questions for a dispensationalist and implying that the Old Testament is really the Word of God if you're a dispensationalist and I can ask him you know ribbing questions about covenant ilysm and pedo baptism and so forth but all the while we know that we're doing this is brothers and we're not at war with one another and we can cultivate that sometimes yeah sometimes yeah that the the danger sign is an example of the danger sign is when you see a post conservative like Stanley grins appealing to the theological method of George Lynn Beck who is a post liberal and clearly outside the you know the pail of Orthodoxy in terms of theological method that's a danger sign okay learning methodologically from them so forth it's not where you just embrace everybody who says yeah I I followed Jesus to our unity goes deeper than that yeah it's a good question and it's not easy what do you mean the view of scripture because we have lots of views about different things related to scripture that's why I thought you probably meant but inerrancy i I can embrace those who have a different view of inerrancy as brothers in Christ without much difficulty at all notice I did not say those who deny inerrancy there's an important difference there are lots of different views of inerrancy guys there are a lot of people out there who say I believe that the Bible is 100% true in everything that it says and when they say that they mean something different than what I mean so and yet I can affirm that those people love Christ it's obvious guys it's obvious and you meet them at ETS all the time but someone who says yeah I know that the Bible says that it's the Word of God and that it gives us truth but I have some serious doubts about that okay that's saying something different altogether isn't it so someone who has a different view of inerrancy there's a book out if you really want to get tied up in knots over that read the book ATB McGowan called the divine the divine authenticity of Scripture and has a different title in the UK but it's called the divine authenticity of Scripture where he advocates a formulation of an errand see that I think I disagree with but man he slices the pie really thin in that technically he's disagreeing with what I would consider the classical or traditional view of inerrancy he's disagreeing with that and yet his formulation has a lot that makes a whole lot of sense about it so I don't I mean I believe I have no doubts that the man loves Jesus that he's a saved man but I would want to have some very serious critical discussion about certain points of his view of inerrancy before before I would say I agree with you on that on that point and there are a lot of people who would throw around the word inerrancy and not really know what it means or not really know what they're affirming they wouldn't be able to explain that they would just say what means the Bible is true yeah okay but even within that there all sorts of shades you could intend all sorts of different things when you say I believe the Bible is 100% true we'll get into that under Biblio a that's a good question though guys there have been so many battles fought in the late 20th century about the doctrine of inerrancy that it's very easy for us to draw battle lines and start shooting big machine guns at each other we got to be careful about that we can have real honest spirited maybe even heated disagreement over certain points of Biblio a biblical criticism and that sort of stuff and those those conversations ought to happen but we ought to be able to worship together afterwards and that's something that we evangelicals particularly conservatives don't do very well and and I'm going from preaching to middlin as my pastor used today and those of us who are so concerned about exegesis and original languages and really knowing what the scriptures say okay if we're really interpreting scriptures that accurately then we ought to be leading the way in this we ought to really understand what the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace means we ought understand what it means to be patient toward those who need to be corrected we ought to be leading the way in what it means to be teachable and humble because this isn't about me after all it's about Jesus living through me right it's not about me winning an argument if I'm wrong about inerrancy I want to be corrected don't you you know I know my theology has holes in it somewhere and if I knew where they were I'd fix them that's what the rest of my life is about was there a hand somewhere no I thought I saw somebody waving yes sir some churches emphasize certain passages passage of Scripture because they so sir practice their lives such as 1925 than this or some churches would say that's a focus for our church you know we do but they are right in a sense you know I think in times when you know you have a conservative church that doesn't emphasize a matter 25 yes right see okay the question is when I think I think I understand your question and that's a it's a very good one in in the case of a Matthew 25 there's a church that really goes after ministry to the poor the homeless the orphans and widows you so forth the least of these okay and our church doesn't really do that very well let's just say our church is deficient in that and I'm gonna talk about any particular church this is a hypothetical so let's understand what that is that's not a doctrinal disagreement is it because if you come from the church that's strong in Mercy Ministries and I come from one that's not it's not as if I say well no we shouldn't be doing Mercy Ministries it's just that I haven't applied it very well in my church okay well that's an opportunity for me to be challenged by your heart for the gospel getting the gospel to the to the least of these now if in your church you're emphasized you're trying to bring food to the hungry in you know East LA and or you're trying to get clean water to villages in Uganda but along with the food in LA and the water in Uganda you don't bring the gospel of Jesus then we have a problem then we do potentially have it have a doctrinal disagreement so we need to be challenged by and learn from one another guys have you ever thought about how gracious God is to use these disagreements that we have he uses the weaknesses the errors that we have in our thinking to balance out the body of Christ and by that I mean it as someone who believes that the spiritual gifts have ceased the miraculous spiritual gifts the revelatory gifts have ceased I can be and have been challenged by the reformed charismatic crowd on what role the Holy Spirit has in our worship I mean isn't it an honest question on their part for them to ask me so does the Holy Spirit come to church and if so how do you know what's he doing I mean I should I should think about that in in the case of Mercy Ministries I should be challenged by someone who says this is a vital Ministry of the church the poor the hungry orphans widows etc shouldn't we be doing something and I should be challenged by that and I should grow from that you know God is really gracious to kind of take all of these imperfections and make them into a body that like works that works together and we can learn from one another we can challenge one another and we can grow into our head into Christ as the passage that we just read says and not get so caught up in whether in whether I'm winning the debate I continue to disagree with the reformed charismatics about the certain spiritual gifts I continue to disagree and yet I have been taught by them I've been challenged by them yeah yeah and say there is the church that only loves theology and loves scriptures I mean I just yeah I just find that you know it's hard no because you keep you know you have these churches that are just so far out of this way they said I don't want to touch that side yeah yeah there's these churches are crying out in the saying why don't you you know communicate with us yeah sure yeah there's a problem if the body of Christ is is a is devouring itself you know to use Paul's language then yeah there's a problem and too often it it it becomes about who's winning the debate rather than who is trying to make the body more healthy so I that we have to go but this is something that you guys really should think about now in your seminary career in your ministry think about it now because the day is coming when you know like a friend of mine who went out and planted a church a year or so ago and man he's in a dark place dark place of the US and trying to try to be faithful and he's trying to reach out even to other other pastors clergy in his area and it turns out that one of the most faithful guys in town is an Anglican and yet that thing is fraught with all sorts of complexities and yet there's a brother there well what do you do with that I mean you've got tremendous disagreements and yet there's a guy there who loves Christ while whereas the guy at the Baptist Church is or whatever I forget whether it's Baptist or not is is just all about division and power what do you do with something like that well I mean you you fellowship with brothers in Christ that's what you do so we have we have a lot to learn from one another

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 7 comments

  1. Hi, thank you very much for the lecture! I have been interested in learning Theology for a longtime, however, as I started listening to the lectures, I realized that in order for me to certify or get a degree in Religious Studies/Theology, I had to think and agree to the same way of thinking as the information provider (Christian, Muslims….etc.). So I felt that I am framed into a specific box and can't disagree with what's in it if I want to get certified or a obtain a degree. Even within the same religion, I had to chose between multiple approaches and theories which contradict each other in many cases. How do I know which way to go and why? Thanks

  2. Thank you Joshua for uploading these videos. Some of these is really great staff. Hope that pastor John is not against it.


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