Departure from theological objectivity has always resulted in confusion within the Christian Church. It has been so in the past, and it is particularly so in our own day. Far too many are simply saying what is right in their own minds. Doctrine is relativized, and subjective understandings of reality have become the theological norms. The distressing problem is that tactically, if not materially, orthodoxy, too, may become perplexed in an age of theological confusion.
What are the opportunities that orthodoxy faces in this age? What is its task? And how can it best fulfill this task? Certainly it can do nothing at all if its normative appeal is overlooked or its fidelity to biblical truth is allowed to be thought irrelevant.
1. The first task facing orthodoxy is to perceive and state clearly the basic reason for the current malaise.
At this point Tertullian is an admirable guide. He also lived in a time of theological confusion, but he drew a clear line between real theology, which is based on finding, and speculative “theology,” which consists in seeking. The latter is not actually theology at all. Like the Gnosticism of Tertullian’s day, much of the so-called modem theology is actually speculative mythology. It may use bits and pieces, even larger portions, of authentic Christianity, but it works these into an arbitrary, subjective scheme that aims at truth rather than proceeding from it. Unwilling to be taught by God in his own self-revelation, it plays with mere ideas about God. Failing to honor God in his objective reality, the ground of all true theology, it condemns itself to subjectivity and anthropocentricity. It misses the point that theology, far from being an endless search, begins where the search ends. It fails ...1
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