Analysing Sources Of Theology
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Published: Wed, 10 May 2017
“Theology is the progress of exploration and thinking that leads to the interpretation of doctrines. Theology is progress rather than result. The result is doctrine.” Good theology draws upon a number of sources. There has been significant discussion within the Christian belief with reference to the identity of these sources, also their relative importance for theological analysis. Generally speaking, important sources have been recognized within Christian theology: Scripture, reason, tradition, experience and creation. Each of these sources has a distinct role to make good theology. Also another important main source of Christian theology is Jesus Christ. I will discuss how “Immanuel and the Purpose of Creation” uses these sources, and whether this is good theology.
The first major source of theology is Scripture. Scripture is recognized as authoritative for Christian theology. Most Christians agree with the authority of Scripture, because this is a foundational Christian theology. Also God comes to us through Scripture. It is the foundation and norm for all Christian preaching and teaching. In Wilkins, the author mentions New Testament references of Immanuel (14 evidences in the New Testament). However, there is a only one the Old Testament Scripture mentioned (Proverbs 8:30-31). The “Immanuel” in the article means, “God with us” (Matt 1: 28). There are several references in the Old Testament not mentioned in the article regarding this concept: Isaiah 63:11, Micah 3:8; Haggai 2:5 mention that God’s Spirit dwells within his people. And also in the book of Judges, there are many Judges who “live with God.” The Old Testament is a preparation for “God with us” in the coming of Christ. The author does not mention any of this, but only mentions the ‘Incarnation’ Jesus.
The second major source of theology is reason. This assumed an exceptional importance, and the significance of reason for Christian theology has always been recognized. In the article, there are several theologians’ ideas: Thomas Aquinas; John Calvin; Jim Packer; Duns Scotus; Colin Gunton. But the problem is that they have different views of the Incarnation. Thomas Aquinas says, “There was no cause of Christ’s coming into the world except to save sinners.” But John Calvin says, “Even though there had been no need of his interposition to redeem the human race, would still have become man.” It seems to face two choices: either Jesus becomes incarnate for sinner, or Jesus becomes incarnate for his people no matter what the reason. It makes it confusing and difficult to understand. According to Olson’s thinking, reason is logic, the rule of non-contradiction. However, this article seems to ignore this.
The third major source is tradition. Tradition is the consensual belief of the Church that began to be developed in the second and third centuries. Theology is based upon Scripture, and tradition refers to a traditional way of interpreting Scripture. The article only quotes Catholic and Protestant theology to comment on Calvin who was a well-known Reformer. The author does not reflect enough voices of the Christian community. Tradition is the consensus of Christian faith in common belief. We need to access it as the voice of the Christian community to understand tradition. If we follow the authority of any one theologian or part of the Christian community blindly, this is not a good model of tradition.
The fourth major source of theology is experience. Experience is the human experience, not personal experience, particularly the religious experience in the Christian community. Experience is the most uncomfortable and unclear source. Nevertheless, experience has to provide a foundational source for Christian theology, and Christian theology provides an interpretive outline within human experience.The author mentions “ecofeminism.” Ecofeminism is a social and political movement somewhere between environmentalism and feminism. However, this is not the full human experience but only this one particular experience. Furthermore it is not religious experience.
The fifth major source of theology is creation. Creation is that work of the triune God. The article suggests that the Incarnation was God’s purpose for creation to join it in his son, and the Incarnation God is directly involved in the sufferings of his creation. However, Karl Barth says “This becoming cannot be brought into connection with creation. It cannot be regarded as one of its evolutionary possibilitiesâ€¦ God’s Word becoming a creature must be regarded as a new creationâ€¦ it is a sovereign divine act, and it is an act of lordship different from creation.” Hence, God and Jesus are not prisoners, but they are redeemers. The author expresses the Incarnation only as the pain of Creation. Jesus is not just a creature. however, Jesus is also the Creator. This article, therefore, underestimates Jesus the Creator in the Incarnation.
Lastly, good theology is centred on Jesus Christ. Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life .No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). There is no way to know God except through Jesus Christ, if there is a way to know God except through Jesus Christ, this is not the truth. Our purpose to study theology is to know the way, the truth and the life of Jesus. Jesus Christ is the lens to see God. Wilkins says “Christ is the completion of all God’s revelation in the past.” This article mentions Paul’s declaration “there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (1Cor 8:6). Wilkins indicates the importance of the immense basis of the linking of Christ and creation. From this point of view, this article embraces good theological point.
In conclusion, Olson says “A Christian theology is one that arises out of Scripture and points to Jesus Christ, is generally consistent with the consensual tradition of Christian thought, and is logically coherent with other Christian beliefs and illumines the shared experience of Christians.” Good theology is reasonable. It also speaks from a biblical understanding of God, Human, and the Creation. Good theology is not fixed to a single Christian belief. Good theology does not break a balance, it speaks effectively to all. In addition, good theology tells every portion of human experience. It includes economics, science, philosophy, politics, history, and so on. Most of all, Jesus is the main character and hero in good theology. This article does not show us a good balance among these sources well, and also it is not easy to understand. Nevertheless, this article is centred in Jesus Christ as main character and hero. Hence, this article holds enough qualification to be called good theology.
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