Theology - Study of God

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Van, Apr 17, 2014.

  1. Van

    Van
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    When we think about God, do we engage in Idolatry? As we consider God, we bridge the gap between the known and the unknown. We ask ourselves is God like this or like that. Some consider an amorphous blob, ethereal and largely unknowable. Is this a picture of God. Are we like the blind men considering the elephant, oh he is like a wall, when touching the side, and oh he is like a rope, when touching the tail.

    So if we back up, lets ask a different question, what do we need to know about God? Jesus, we are told is the perfect image of God. Is He infinite or finite? Finite, a physical man who walked and talked just as other men. Does God have an infinite side? Perhaps, He certainly has an unknowable side, unfathomable and beyond our understanding. But should we base our theology on that, made up of the mere speculations of men, or should we concentrate our study on Jesus and how He represented God to us?

    Which brings me to the deepest, most profound theological truth ever considered by the mind of man, which is Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

    God Bless
     
  2. Greektim

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    I certainly hope that is not the most profound theological truth considered by man.

    I'd believe it if you said that was the most profound theological truth considered by Van (see what I did there? :D).
     
  3. Rippon

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    Study man, study!

     
  4. JonC

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    I think that we are all inclined to a view of God based on our own personal experiences, worldviews, and understanding. But this, IMHO, hints at the purpose of theology. Unlike the elephant analogy (which, BTW, assumes that the one presenting the analogy knows there is such a thing as an elephant), theology urges us to set aside these presuppositions and know God through His own revelation in Scripture (and, more vividly, in Christ). There are many profound theological truths in Scripture…for example, many consider “in the beginning God” to be the “most” profound. Personally, I believe the most profound truth is encompassed in God’s revelation to man as a whole. In the story of redemption, there are many truths that form a detailed and complete picture of what God is revealing to us in Christ. But the subject of the redemption story itself is not man, but God. Biblical truths are not truths in isolation, but dependent on the entire counsel of God (His revelation is not “snip-its” of truth).

    Your first sentence is certainly worth contemplation. I think that there is always a danger of idolatry and a danger of worshipping a god of our own making. IMHO, this is seen when biblical truths are rejected as no longer relevant - when we do this, we are in effect forming a picture of Christ and of God that is more palatable to our desires. When we do this, the picture we can form of God looks oddly like us. Scripture does not leave room for this…and Jesus, by affirming Scripture, leaves no room for this. Yet we can see this “picking and choosing” of doctrine in many churches (e.g., acceptance of certain lifestyles).
     
  5. Van

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    Thanks JonC for actually addressing the topic! Years ago I sat in a waiting room, on a stormy night in a southern hospital. I faced a wall of glass, but because the waiting room was well lit, and it was night outside, what I saw was a reflection, rather than what was outside. But occasionally, lightning would strike in the area, and the night was lit up in a flash. Then the reflection would briefly disappear and I could see the trees, rain, wind, blowing leaves, the fury of God's storm. But, just a quickly, the reflection reappeared. A trick of light.

    When we look through the glass darkly, if we are full of our own light, knowing as truth through speculation what is actually speculation, we see the reflection rather than the truth. And so whenever our picture misses the mark, but we accept it, we engage in idolatry.
     
  6. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    I don't know ...

    Care to explain how the Creator of the Universe, who hung the stars and planets in their places, who establishes boundaries for the oceans, who holds the key to the storehouses of wind, hail, rain and snow could, in a great act of selfless love, stoop down in human form and offer Himself in the place of the part of His creation that muddied up that creation in the first place?

    Might look simple, but it's pretty profound, if you ask me.

    :praying: <--- in thanksgiving and gratitude for this day
     
  7. Revmitchell

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    Not everything profound has 25 dollar theological terms attached and has been peer reviewed.
     
  8. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    There ya go! :thumbsup:

    Well said, Rev. :applause:
     
  9. Greektim

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    Because this is a penultimate concept. It does not get to the ultimacy of God. If the grandest concept of God is that he saves you, then you are the idol!

    I prefer to think of the Gospel as all about the glory of God (2 Cor. 4:4-6). The ultimate issue at stake here is God's supremacy not man's salvation.
     
  10. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    Bull hockey. It is the only concept of God the new believer has grasped, and it is amazing to the point of dumbfounding to him/her.

    Somewhere in the murk and blur that some let theology become is the "rubber meets the road" concept of salvation as it applies to the individual. Otherwise, it is just an intellectual exercise that has no impact whatsoever on the person swimming in that murk and blur they themselves have created from what should be viewed as God's truth brought home to roost.
     
  11. JonC

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    I don’t know that it is a penultimate concept as it not only indicates His love for man, but also alludes to the nature of God as well. That said, I do agree with you as many seem to view man as the center of focus within God’s redemptive work (not that man inadvertently benefits from the Gospel, but that at its center is Christ and the glorification of God).
     
  12. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    "Dear God, Father in heaven ...

    Thank you so much for making me an unintended beneficiary of Your glory. Amen."

    :rolleyes:
     
  13. Revmitchell

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    The most important thing in the universe is the glory of God. The primary means by which that occurs is the salvation of man.
     
  14. JonC

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    Yes, we see through the glass darkly - looking towards the time we will see face to face. I think that we often feel a need to fill in those blanks of what is not revealed of God rather than simply rely on what has been revealed. Maybe this is necessary to form a context of understanding for those truths…I’m not sure. But I don’t think this is idolatry until it comes to a point where we no longer recognize our own handiwork in that picture and begin to rely on our own understanding as if it were the gospel itself.
     
  15. Van

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    Spot on JonC, Christianity should be Christ centered, and focused on the revelation of God as presented by Jesus. We disagree on the point that to hold to speculations about God is not idolatry. If we do not fear stepping away from truth, do we really fear God, which is the beginning of wisdom?
    Especially when we have the revelation of Jesus in plain view!
     
  16. JonC

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    I think it depends on how we hold those speculations. I don’t think it wrong to reason out Scripture and form an understanding or a way of understanding God as long as we acknowledge this is our understanding. For example, there are theological and doctrinal divides between the children of God which basically reflect differences in human reasoning and understanding (to include reasoning out interpretations of biblical text). If one goes to Scripture to reinforce rather than re-evaluate this reasoning then that may be idolatry. I suppose we all hold to certain theological understandings and views of God, and as long as we willingly yield to the possibility of correction, then I don’t see it as idolatry. I certainly don’t believe it appropriate to replace Christ as the focus of our faith with our own “God pictures.”
     
  17. Van

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    When we "reason out" scripture, we must ask ourselves, what is the least God could be saying, what must we conclude by logical necessity. Where we get into trouble, where we start carving out our own idol, is when we ask is it possible God could being saying this or that, i.e. basing our view on what the Bible does not rule out.

    For example, Christ died for the church. Does this, by logical necessity mean Christ did not die for the lost, all mankind? Nope. He could have died for all mankind, which by logical necessity would include the church.

    Some years ago I visited the Getty Museum in LA, and gazed upon many old paintings depicting people in scripture. And I was struck with sadness that the pictures presented an unstudied view. For example, John was depicted as writing some scripture as a young man. After all, no where in scripture does it say John did not write some initial drafts as a young man. :)
     
  18. Van

    Van
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    If we want to know what is God like, we can start our search by studying Jesus. Was Jesus "all powerful?"

    Well he could overcome and manipulate natural phenomenon. Stop the wind, calm the sea, walk on water, heal the lame, raise the dead. He was anointed with "power." He could walk into a locked room. He did not always employ His power, i.e. His temptations, because to do so would not accomplish His purpose. But we can say, God is all powerful, based on the example of Jesus.
     
  19. Yeshua1

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    Jesus IS God, not just a mere representation of God to us, and God is infinite in all of His attributes, for God NEVER had to learn anything, become more powerful, live longer etc!


    And we will NEVER, even in all t\eternity, know ALL about Him!
     
  20. Van

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    I see Yeshua1 has reflected on this subject and written his own scripture.

    The fact that Jesus is God but also presents the image of God, is well documented in scripture. As for much of the rest of his assertions, not so much. But we can find all these statements in the uninspired speculations of men.

    Did Jesus know everything, or did He not know the time of His return? What does scripture actually say?

    Did Jesus learn things and grow in wisdom? What does scripture actually say?

    Did Jesus live forever, or did He die for us? What does scripture actually say.

    Should we not study Jesus because we might learn things about God that differ from our preconceptions?
     
    #20 Van, Apr 19, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2014

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