Should there be an Introduction to a Little Basic Theology?
At a discussion about ‘A Day of Small Things’ with a few friends, the suggestion was made that there should be an introduction to a little basic theology. This is a subject many like myself have steered clear of, even regarding the term as a dirty word, and for very good reason.
– We read the scriptures, we have bible readings and other occasions, and we pray with a view to ‘knowing God’ and in an assembly setting it can be said that we are ‘taught of God’ and guided by the Holy Spirit.
– On the other hand, theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. (Wikipedia) – Trying to mentally encompass the inscrutable God is futile, even profane!
However, there are times when we desire to help fellow Christians who have been subjected to a different system of teaching. It is then useful to understand lines of thought, which we might feel are not fully in accord with, or a misinterpretation of scripture, even when they are held by seriously devout godly believers.
So recently I have been seeking to produce a short guide to some of the theological terms that we might encounter – not to make theologians of us, wasting time on ‘foolish and unlearned questions (2 Tim 2:23)’. But it is useful to know what is meant, for example, by the difference between Calvinism (and its five points) and Arminianism, pre-, post- and a-millennial eschatology etc. Through this we can see how we might relate to those from Baptist (Calvinist), Wesleyan/Methodist/Pentecostal (Arminian), and other backgrounds, and to be able to bring in what is positive in a meek way without giving offence. We are exhorted: ‘In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth’ (2 Tim 2:25) – a scripture which follows the instruction as to separating from iniquity.
Love is of God, and every one that loves has been begotten of God, and knows God. He that loves not has not known God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 Darby)
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent(John 17:3)
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings (Phil 3:10)
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me (John 5:39).
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth(2 Tim 3:7)
Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. (Eccl 12:12)
A Call for Help
I am no theologian – I studied economics and statistics, not theology. So I would like to invite several to review my draft when I have done my bit. There are two or three persons I have already contacted, but if you feel you could help please let me know.
John Nelson Darby
Meanwhile, for a start, here is what might be written about Darby theology
|Branch of Theology||Darby’s Probable Position|
|Hermeneutics – concerning the Biblical text||Qualified-literal – Passages are literal, figurative or symbolic, and recognised as such. Also, that which relates to Israel and the law (OT) is distinct from that which applies to the church and grace (NT).|
|Soteriology – concerning salvation||Classic evangelical – God-given faith in the blood. Without the atoning work of Christ, man must bear the guilt of his sin and remain at a distance from God without knowledge of Him or of His love. More Calvinist than Arminian but claiming neither|
|Eschatology – concerning prophecy||‘The Father of Premillennial Dispensationalism’ – The pre-tribulation secret rapture with the Church returning with Christ at the start of the millennium|
|Ecclesiology – concerning the church and church form||The true church is heavenly, unified and perfect – publicly it is in ruins – the call is to depart from iniquity and gather to the Lord’s name – without form, organisation or ordained leadership.|
|Christology – concerning the Person of Christ||None! – How can the blessed Object of our worship be studied academically?|
- Reading, remembering the Holy Scriptures (see 2 Tim 3:15)
- Knowing that your sins are forgiven and rejoicing in the Saviour (see 1 John 2:12)
- Awaiting our Lord’s return with a heart aglow (see 2 Peter 1:19)
- Enjoying a wonderful relationship with one another, with he Lord’s presence when two or three are gathered to His Name (see Matt 18:20)
- Worshipping our great ‘God and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13 Darby and others)
Your comments, please
God’s blessings for the holiday season
Your brother, Sosthenes