Quite some time ago I wrote a post asking whether the Bible was enough. In a way, this is a continuation of the same or similar thought. My readers may or may not know that I have been a student at Liberty University Online. I had to stop for a while to work an extra job, but now I’m back into school. A recent and current class are classes on Theology, which I enjoy very much. These classes have brought a question to my mind that I’ve had before. “Where does my (or your) theology or ideas on theology come from?”
It’s no secret to those who know me well that I am passionate about the Bible. I’m passionate about everything about the Bible and especially about learning more and learning how to apply it to everyday life. My outlook on the Bible, God’s word really hasn’t changed much since I really started reading and studying it earnestly in 1999. I have learned more of it and learned how to apply it better to my life as I’ve been studying it over the years. My understanding has deepened of the things of God and I’m recalling more and more of what the Bible says. With this continued study, I’m seeing how what I already understand fits in with what I’m still learning.
Ideas come up from time to time that I sometimes dismiss out of hand. Sometimes these ideas make me figuratively scratch my head and wonder, “What in the world are they thinking?” Sometimes these ideas generate within me a great desire to yell and scream at the book, computer screen, magazine, radio or even sometimes person, “No! No! No!” I am usually successful in refraining from the latter.
If you know me, even a little bit, you should realize that I’m pretty passionate about what I believe, but I also am passionate about learning more and deepening my understanding of what I do know. With that being said, I’ve seen, read, heard or watched things over the last few weeks that have brought the question to mind again. That question has taken many different formats over the time I’ve been considering it. If you remember the title of my post, that’s essentially it. “Where do you get YOUR theology?”
Most people who are even somewhat serious about this will respond that they get their theology from the Bible, of course. While that appears to be true on the surface, a deeper study seems to reveal that many are either adding to or taking away from the Word of God. I’ll not call out specific people, but I have no problem calling out teachings that contradict God’s word. There are a couple of things that are perhaps more personal convictions and I believe that there is room for disagreement and true and full fellowship is still possible.
Let me offer some points of difference in beliefs on several doctrines. Some of these that I’ve known of over the years include: Calvinism (Reformed Theology), Infant Baptism, Baptismal Regeneration, Covenant Theology, Replacement Theology, Entire Sanctification and more, I’m sure. Since I believe the biblical position on the Rapture, Great Tribulation, Millennial Kingdom is a Pre-trib rapture (to shorten it a bit), I believe that all of the other views contradict scripture.
I’m not going to explain why I think these are all wrong here, but I am a little weary of the accusation that I get my views from some writings or teachings of someone from the past. In much the same way, with all due respect to persons (living or not) such as A. W. Pink, J.N. Darby and others. Having discussed (I dislike the terminology, “debate”) many of these in the past in many different forums, I’ve been offered books, magazine articles, websites, cassette tapes and more on why I didn’t have the proper understanding. Honestly, this gets to the meat of the matter. Along these same lines, I’ve also been told that, “When I am more educated on the topic (more college/”proper” theological teaching) I’ll understand better.” I’ve also been told, “When you’re more spiritually mature, you’ll understand better.”
These are the arguments that weary me. With all due respect to our differences and understanding of those differences, let’s sit down with the Bible and discuss those differences. My explanations or “arguments” may sound to you like I’m saying what someone may have said in the past, but I absolutely assure you that my understanding came from reading the Bible. ALL of it. MANY times through. I know that I’m not as spiritually mature as I eventually will be. I hope and strive to grow in my faith and understanding of God and his word daily. And, while I am still in Bible College, having studied the Bible daily for over 17 years, I personally feel that I have a better than average grasp of it already.
Honestly, it goes beyond annoyance with me when I see people make the same tired old arguments about why I do or don’t believe something the Bible really does or doesn’t teach. Please don’t tell me that I’ve only come to this conclusion because I’ve read someone else’s teaching on it. Please, when forming your beliefs and understanding, use the WHOLE word of God. If you haven’t read it ALL, start there. Please stop using your spiritual scalpel to select certain verses which seem to support your theories and your spiritual eraser to pretend those passages which refute your suppositions don’t really exist.
If you truly love God’s word as I do, even if we disagree on something, you should be willing to sit with me with Bibles in front of us (coffee sometimes helps, too) and examine God’s word together. I won’t point you first to an article, website, recording or something to “help you understand better.” I believe that solid study of God’s word, prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit will do that much, much better. MY theology comes from years of reading the Bible, letting it be the authority it claims to be and filtering everything else through it. MY theology comes from meditating on what I’ve read over the years and praying for understanding.
So, where do you get YOUR theology?