Monday, January 24, 2011

The Theology-Driven Life

The Theology-Driven Life: "

The following is an article by Michael Adams over at Journey in Grace.  I think that I to can relate to what he is saying.  I love truth and love to study the Bible.  But when we stop in the process at either exegesis or theology we have short-circuited God's intended pattern for Biblical revelation.  I know that I can  not thwart God's plan, but God uses our errors at times to convict us of our need for change - and one change is that I too want to be Gospel centered and Gospel driven.  I think part of it is that we don't see proclamation of the Gospel through exposition (or expository exaltation as John Piper puts it) as our ultimate goal when we open up the scripture to study.

So my 3 steps to being gospel centered in my study of scripture is to include

  1. Exegesis - What did God say to the original hearers 
  2. Theology - What is true for all peoples at all times, and in all places
  3. Proclamation -What has God accomplished for use today
Read Michael Adams post below and let let me know if you either resonate with what he is saying or think there may be areas that need to be pushed back against because of unbalance in what he is saying.

Thanks and read on.  Here is what Michael Adams Wrote: 

I think I’m starting to catch on! This past year and half has been a tough one for me, but it’s been rewarding at the same time. So many changes, so little time to explain them all! If you’ve followed my blogs over the last several years, you’ve no doubt noticed a few changes in the things I write about and the way I say what I want to say. Some of you (but not very many) have asked what’s been going on because you saw me shut down my mostly theological blog sites in favor of starting fresh. To put it succinctly, my emphasis has changed from what I would call an exclusively theology-driven life to more of a gospel-driven life. There is a small but profound verse in Luke chapter 12 that I can use to illustrate my point and give you a glimpse into how my thinking has changed and how it continues to change. Check it out:
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
In my former theology-driven life, the burning question on my mind concerning this verse would probably have centered on the last two words – the kingdom. I probably would have immediately asked the question, “What is the kingdom?” That’s a great question and one that needs to be asked and answered, but one problem associated with a purely theology-driven life is that it seldom, if ever, moves past the theological questions. For me, the theology-driven life fixated on the theological question, in this example, “What is the kingdom?” and was content to just stay there. It saw no need to move past it. It spent gobs of time and energy amassing a plethora of proof texts on a subject in order to defend its view in writing or debate. In this example, its view of what the kingdom is.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Understanding theology is important. I love good theology and getting grounded and trained up in what the Bible has to say can’t be compromised. Knowing what the Bible has to say to us on a particular topic is crucial and necessary. But sound theology should spill over into my life in the form of becoming more intimate with God and extending grace toward others. Theology that stops at theology is just noise. It’s noisy and unprofitable. Like any good thing, I can set my theology on a pedestal and make it an end in itself. I can make my theology an idol and when I do, it’s easy to become theologically proud because, at least in my own estimation, no one can stand toe-to-toe with me in my theological prowess. When theology and theological correctness become the primary forces that drive me, grace and truth get out of balance and our scales start to lean too heavily on the truth side with little time or consideration given to grace and what it means to be gracious to others in insignificant matters. Grace takes a back seat. But Jesus is our Supreme Example of the perfect blend of grace and truth that we should seek to emulate (John 1:14).
There’s nothing wrong with understanding what the kingdom is. We need to know the answer to that question, but the theology-driven life seldom, if ever, moves beyond gathering proof texts to aid in its understanding and grasp of theological truths and concepts. It’s happy to stay in that arena of understanding concepts without moving past the concepts and into how one’s theology should translate into a passion for God and sharing the gospel. It becomes exclusive. In the purely theology-driven life, we gather others around us that are also theology-driven and we become centered on ourselves as we shore each other up in the idea that exhaustive parsing of a theological concept is the Christian life. We become exclusive, ingrown, and absorbed in chasing theological concepts and the gospel becomes hidden.
But here’s the flip side. In the verse above, the gospel-driven life is more concerned with understanding the kingdom by asking questions like, “Why is it the Father’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom?” or, “How should knowing that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom help overcome my fears and anxieties? How should it impact me and change me?” The context of the passage isn’t a discourse on what the kingdom is, but those words were spoken in the context of anxiety and worry in the Christian life. They are intended to comfort and encourage in the midst of facing life’s fears. They are a reminder of the gospel and what has been freely given us in Christ. It’s easy for the purely theology-driven life to miss that.
Well,  do you have any comments that would help me unpack being Gospel driven rather than theologically driven?

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