This semester I’m teaching a course entitled “Theological Methods and Issues.” This upper-level seminary course has thirteen students who are presenting two papers each on topics they have chosen.
The THIRD STEP in our THEOLOGICAL METHOD is IDENTIFYING THE IMPORTANCE. This is a reminder to us that theology is not a mental intramural sport! We are dealing with what GOD SAYS about a certain topic — and we dare not trifle with His Word! Because theology speaks to our deepest needs, we need to listen to what God says.
Sometimes we believers can get too emeshed in theological minutia, forgetting the importance of the topic at hand.
The following cartoon illustrates this danger:
When we make every theological issue a 1st level doctrine, then there is no room for disagreement between believers. If all issues are equally clear in Scripture — and they aren’t — then someone who holds a different view from mine must be a false teacher!
Are some doctrines more important than others? Of course! The deity of Christ is far more important than the issue “Have miraculous gifts ceased?” In IDENTIFYING THE IMPORTANCE of the issue we must allow Scripture to set the agenda, to show us the vitalness of that doctrine, and to frame our response to it.
1. Why do we believers tend to make all doctrinal issues non-negotiables? How have we lost the ability to charitably disagree with one another on distinctives issues (= issues on which Christians can hold different perspectives)?
2. What are some reasons we don’t see theological issues as important as they are?