Tuesday, February 11, 2014


For this next session of my discipleship class, part of the assignment was to continue to read Wayne Grudem's "Systematic Theology". We were to focus on God's "Communicable Attributes" and on the "Trinity". Not to seem as though I am diminishing learning about the attributes of God, the portion I found most helpful was on the Trinity, as it is a most foundational doctrine that we must be absolutely clear on when it come to the Christian faith. Through this chapter, Grudem weaves the Scriptural support, starting in the Old Testament and sealing the truth of the Trinity with the New Testament.

He points out the plurality in which God speaks at the creation of man and when He says "now, let us make man in our image." Grudem shows that this can only be showing the plurality that is found in the Godhead. He quashes the notion that it was merely God speaking in the royal "we" sense, for that was not a manner in which kings spoke in ancient biblical times. He even shows that Proverbs 8:30-31 is a rough picture of there being "plurality" to God, a point that I have never considered. Grudem makes the case that when it is speaking of "Wisdom" it is actually speaking of Christ because that proverb attributes a more divine personification aspect to wisdom when it is speaks of it being the mechanism if you will, of creation, something that the proverbs never do in any other regard when speaking of wisdom. So in that I found a very valuable nugget when it comes to defending the Trinity.

Grudem does a beautiful job of making this doctrine as understandable as possible, (even though it is impossible to completely grasp it at the same time.)But of all the sections in this chapter I especially appreciated his treatment of the controversies that have been addressed through Church history when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity or the nature therein. So often we fail to comprehend the battles that have raged within the church over doctrine, yet without those battles back then it begs the question, what would the church believe now? There are those who wish for us to forget what has been fought over and they will say "those men of old just liked to squabble over minor details." Others just choose out of laziness to not even bother to find out the purposes of those ancient counsels. This brings to mind the old saying, "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it." Though that saying is not Scripture, it is an axiom of the highest order.

Now, in a perfect Church this would not need to be said, but it appears that there are many who cast themselves as pastor, who have failed to heed the words of Paul Romans 16:17 "I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them."
Why do I bring that up? Because today we have prominent evangelical leaders offering their hands in fellowship to a man who denies the Trinity (T.D. Jakes) all in the name of "unity". Or worse yet men like Joel Osteen who has confessed that he believes that Mormons are part of Christianity because they believe in "Jesus", (a Jesus who is the spirit brother of Lucifer mind you.) This would not sit well with our dear brother Athanasius who faced opposition from all sides in the Arian controversy, even from the Emperor himself. When all called for peace and unity, Athanasius stood firm to the teachings past down by the Church. He "squabbled" to ensure one phrase was put in to the Nicene Creed, the phrase "begotten, not made." He would not rest until that was put in, for it would help sound the death-knell to the Arian heresy later in the Counsel of Constantinople.

The ancients understood what was at stake and through it they clarified, not invented, but clarified what had always been taught when it came to the nature of the Godhead. Oh, if only we would learn from the past we would not open our doors to fellowship with those who have reintroduced long condemned heresy.

This is no new discovery, the Bible is crammed with warnings about those teaching falsely and how we are to treat them. Obviously, we must give a defense of our faith and pray that the Spirit would bring said false teachers to repentance, but if we deal with these false teachings gingerly we are failing to remember the purpose of the weapons we have been given, which Paul tells us in 2Cor 10, "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ."

I must be clear, I am not advocating the smashing of the person, but of the "lofty ideas" and "strongholds", anything that sets itself up against God or lies about God.

My final thoughts for this post is, what this "Systematic Theology" has done so far (beyond my own expectations) is help begin to sharpen the blurred lines that have left me almost afraid to say what I believed, because I had no solid understanding of the "why" of my beliefs. I encourage any who may find themselves in the same situation to pick up this book. Though it is still just one man's study of Scripture, I foresee my understanding of historical Christian doctrine becoming ever more tempered as my class unfolds.

Until next time.

In all things the glory be to God 

John the Lesser.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Theology or no theology: That is the question. Part 1

I am currently part of a discipleship class that the church I attend uses to raise up leaders for the church from within the church. I love the idea. So often churches look to fill the role of Elder or other church leader role, by looking outside of their own congregation. Now sometimes that may be what needs to be done, but I believe by looking within their own walls is the best method for a church to adopt. Mainly because that church has already been cultivating a man who already knows and is known by those who make up that local church.

Anyway, we are reading a couple books as of right now. The first is Wayne Grudems "Systematic Theology". I am enjoying the systematic theology, because I do have many questions pertaining to broad topics and have a hard time finding a starting point. It is particularly helpful as it starts off with "Why should Christian's study theology?" In all honesty, that is a question I think many Christians need to wrestle with and come to an answer in their own lives.So many believe that theology is for theologians and therefore leave the difficulty of studying Scripture up to other people. But is that why God has given us the Bible? So that we can, as laymen, sit back on our haunches and expect others to do the heavy lifting?

First, Wayne Grudem states in his preface, "I have not written this book for teachers of theology...I have written for students." I think that is a great starting point of the tome that is "Systematic Theology". We are all to be students of the Word if for no other than the reason that it is what speaks and points us to Christ John 5:39. Now, I am speaking to myself as well, we are to devour the Scriptures, for in them is where we learn who God is. That is what theology is, the study of God, and with that flows all understandings.  If you start off with the wrong understanding about God, all other areas of understanding will be off.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that you should go forth and get a degree in biblical Greek or Hebrew. But Paul states in Ephesians 4:14 that we are not to be like children in our understanding, because it will only lead us into being bashed against rocks as we attempt to navigate the deadly straits of true and false doctrine. Or as Paul also puts it in 1 Cor 14:20 that we are to be mature in our thinking. That can only happen if we feed upon the solid spiritual food that God has provided through His word.

As the book progresses, Wayne Grudem then points to his basic reason we should study theology. On page 27 he reminds us of the words of Christ in Matthew 28:19-20 in the Great Commission when He says that we are to "teach them all to observe what I have commanded you." Teaching, that is why we as Christians are to study theology, so that we may teach others.

This got me thinking of some past statements I have heard. The first being, "your salvation is not for you, it's for those who are still lost." Where that is stated in Scripture I do not know, but it makes sense in light of passages in which Paul speaks of the gifts that have been given to the church, in that they are not designed for our own personal use, but for the building up of Christ. The shepherd, elders and teaching pastors are not given those gifts for their own gain, but for the gain of the local body and consequently the Church Universal.

Now, I know what your thinking, "I have no one to teach. I do not hold a teaching position at church, so how am I supposed to do that?" I know your thinking that because I've thought it, and I'm not that original. You can't tell me you have no spouse/children/sibling/parent/co-worker, who you can expound to things that the Lord is illuminating in your life through holy writ. There is always and I mean always someone who we can teach. If there is not, either you have secluded yourself completely from all human contact, or you are blind to those who are around you. Once again, this is me speaking to me also, so don't take this as one-sided criticism.

I need to go and attend to my family, and read more for my class, but let me leave you with this. I exhort myself and any who may stumble upon this post. Hunger for His Word consume it, but do not withhold it from those you love.

Until next time.

In all things be the glory of God.
John the Lesser.