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Mr. Marks does an excellent job here of noting the necessary balance between personal wrestling with theology and the Bible against taking seriously the Church's history with both sources. How we read the Bible in relation to the theology(theologies) around us is of the utmost importance for believers today. I hope all of us who read this article are encouraged to engage with scripture on several levels (intellectual, emotional, personal, communal, devotional, practical, etc.).
I found this article refreshing. The Author's words and explanation I felt were right on. I love the spiritual aspect of what I believe and experience but I want it to be based on truth and not my own ideology which is flawed. It was also nice to have someone say what I have been trying to say. I plan to show people this article and pass it along for I feel its relevant and well laid out.
Jesus often said to his enemies "it is written..." and so we should also know what has been written and how it was written and why. These things we learn from study of the scriptures and under grace and with the help of those who have come before us. This is theology. Also we need to know what Jesus said and what he commanded under grace because it is written that Jesus brought grace and truth. None of us under grace and with truth should be argumentative and force others to accept doctrine that is hard and is a burden. This is itself doctrine and should be a friend to all those who want grace and truth in their lives.
dear John Guthrie. You are right that the NT is a systematization and is itself theology. Jesus also taught an non-chaotic gracious truth. The NT is not though a complete systematization and each person needs to learn and add knowledge to his faith which comes not just from reading but from applying one's mind under grace. We also learn from the organization of others who learn how to add value to the scriptures under prayer. Without prayer and without grace and without applying our minds and without learning from the efforts of others we will perhaps flounder when the storm comes. One of Jesus teachings was that if we build on the foundation of his teachings our house is built on rock. We need to work hard to understand the building blocks and to build on those blocks. All this is organized and is theology. All does not rest on a few slogans.
Although Jesus did not come to teach systematic theology, as a university subject, he still took a long time to teach commandments and a spirit (or tone and point of view) to the commandments. These commandments are scattered amongst stories and gospel fragments which need to be honestly studied in prayer in order to line them up and follow them. To be his disciples we have to obey his commandments, all of them, and we need to know what they are in order to be disciples. It takes theology to work out what the commandments are and what the Jesus-point-of-view is.
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