Systematic Theology: An “evolved” approach!

Human – business evolution

..and BOOM! I’m a clever chap, it occurred to me, that I might not be the first guy to blog notes on Systematic Theology. I know – I know, how modest of me. Maybe I’m not inventing the wheel! ..So I searched and I found, what seems to be, a website with Wayne Grudem’s lectures on these topics with PDFs(!), PDFs of his notes and outlines. Duh, Duh Daaa! So what now? Do I stop. No.

(Here’s a link to this highly useful and resourceful site: Just scroll to the bottom page and you’ll start with the beginning.)

So what will become of this blog series. Well 3 things. 1) My posts can stop being so exhaustive. I’m no longer reinventing the wheel OR creating a resource for people – because someone’s already done those things before – very well! I’m also not recording my own notes from studying. Massive sigh of relief*….2) I can now record my three favourite things from each chapter. and finally 3) We can go with a bit more pace! Whoopie!

I warned you, I did. This approach would evolve. First we had the removal of the memory verses (Because I’m doing Romans 8, FYI 30 verses so far!). Now we’re moving away from exhaustive approach, and mimicking the BRT approach to study.  Streamline…

Oh by the way, happy New year everyone!

Systematic Theology 4.b Authority of Scripture (Obedience & Truthfulness)

 

WELCOME to the 2nd part in looking at the Authority of Scripture. (Meta-blog interruption, since one post usually takes me about an hour to read the content, make notes and write up, I’m looking at a big project ahead of me! On the bright-side we’re 4/57 chapters of our way through. So whats that? Like, 1/14ish Almost a tenth!…)

Authority of Scripture – to disobey or disbelieve any word of scripture is to D/D God.

This is why Jesus can rebuke His disciples for not believing the OT (Lk 24.25), why believers are encouraged to obey apostles (John 15.20, 2 Pet 3.2). And why disobeying Paul’s writings could result in excommunication (2 Thess 3.14) or Spiritual punishment (2 Cor 13:2-3). In contrast God delights in those who tremble at His Word (Isaiah 66.2).

Grudem makes an amazing observation on how this doctrine – sub-doctrine – whatever – affects the role of preaching. I love it so much I’ve copied it again:

Preacher

As a personal side note – I think our expectations of a sermon are far off – and that’s our own fault. We have a tendency to lift up a gifted speaker, a funny communicator, an intelligent teacher or a likeable personality. We rate someone – according to their engage-ability, the stories told, the feelings we had over the message (ALL GOOD THINGS)…But in doing so – we can get distracted, miss the point and forget what really matters, really. It is His word. His word brings life, not a speaker’s ability. I love Paul’s opening to the Corinthians (1 Cor 2:1-5):

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power…

Anyway! – Grudem also explores the Truthfulness of Scripture, and how this aspect of the WoG allows us to confidently acknowledge it’s authority. We know that the His Word is true because:

  • God cannot lie – See Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18, 2 Samuel 7.28 and Numbers 23:19.
  • Scripture is without error – Proverbs 30:5, Psalm 12:6
  • His Word will endure – even if Heaven and earth pass away (Matthew 24:35)
  • Not only are His Words true, but they are the ultimate standard of Truth. See John 17.17, Grudem explains that the greek word for “true”ness in this passage is actually a noun. His word is Truth.

What then is truth? Truth is what God says, and we have what God says (accurately but not exhaustively) in the Bible.

Q WHAT IF…we discover a new fact that contradicts Scripture. 

  1. Examine the fact, data and source. Check it really is a fact.
  2. Re-examine our own interpretation of Scripture, have we really understood it correctly – is it possible we have read in to it – what makes sense to us. Is there a chance we – fallen, human beings – have misunderstood it. Or is it more likely God made a mistake!? (Rhetorical question!)

 

Systematic Theology 4.a Authority of Scripture

Buckle yourselves in, I know I am! This is a long post. We’re still in the Doctrine of the Word of God. But we’re entering a sub-series called the 4 Characteristics of Scripture. Now we’ve defined the different forms of the Word of God (Scripture being one of them), and then defined what writings made up Scripture (Canon). We’re going to look at the 4 characteristics of Scripture.

Now, Grudem doesn’t use this, but the 4 Characteristics spell out the word SCAN.  I find it a useful way to remember it:

S (Sufficiency) C (Clarity) A (Authority) N (Necessity)

We’re starting with A – Authority of Scripture.

The Authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.

The chapter breaks this into 2 parts. This post will look at the first part.  Series within sub-series within series! Whatever next!?

Machines making machines – C3P0, Dreams within dreams – Inception

Side note: A massive component of the Authority of Scripture is it’s truthfulness. Therefore Truthfulness and Authority are woven together. For more detail see/wait in anticipation for the next blog!

All Words in Scripture are God’s Words

  1. This is what the Bible claims for itself!
    • Old Testament:
      • The phrase “Thus says the Lord” introduces a lot of OT scripture.
      • Further we know God speaks through the prophets (1 Kings 14:18, Jer 37:2, Deut 18:19, 1 Sam 10:8).
      • Finally the NT says this about the OT: “All Scripture is God breathed” (2 Tim 3:16 – easy to remember because of J 3:16 just another book). But the NT is scattered with moments where it refers to OT this way 2 Pet 1:21….see page 75 of Grudem for like a mega list!
    • New Testament:
      • 2 Pet 3:16, here Peter puts Paul’s writings among other Scriptures!,
      • 1 Tim 5.18, here Paul quotes Jesus in the book of Luke as if Scripture!
      • Furthermore the passages about the Holy Spirit let us know that the apostles could write Jesus’ very own words: John 14:26 and 16:13.
    • There is an argument against this using 1 Cor 7.12 where Paul explains that he is writing a command that’s not specifically from Jesus. “To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord):…“. Grudem acknowledges this point and replies:
      • V25 & 40 are good verses to remember in light of this objection. That even though Paul is expressing his judgement 1) He has the Spirit of God in making this judgement and 2) is giving the judgement as someone who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy!
      • V10 might also give some explanation as to why, Paul phrases V12 the way he does. That because in V10 He quotes some of Jesus’ actual words (from the gospels) on a subject, but because he doesn’t for V12. He could mean – “I, not the Lord – [because Jesus didn’t say anything specifically on this topic – so I can’t quote Him]”
      • The fact that Paul, on this one occasion acknowledges it’s not Jesus, should add weight to every other occasion where he doesn’t put this limit on his writings.

2. We are convinced of the Bible’s claims to be be God’s words, as we read the Bible. This is a work of the Holy Spirit.

  • 1 Cor 2.13-14 reminds us that we need the Spirit to discern spiritual things.
  • In John 10.27, Jesus explains that His sheep can hear/know His voice.
  • It is important to note it is as we read, not apart from reading or in addition to reading that the Holy Spirit does this work. If we want the Holy Spirit to convince us the words are true – we must read them! (Good excuse as any!)

3. Other evidence is useful but does not finally convince us.

We have loads of other evidence that the Bible is God’s true and His word: Historical accuracy, Internal consistency (despite being written across 1000s of years) , how lives have been changed throughout History as a result of this book, how human history has been influenced by this book more than by any other. YET “not withstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts” – Westminster Confession of faith,

4. The Words of Scripture are self-attesting.

This basically means, they appeal to themselves to be true. At first glance this may seem like circular reasoning. However, Grudem explains that every appeal to Ultimate Authority must ultimately appeal to that Authority for proof. He then goes on to give a series of examples of this being played out.

Circular

Finally, Grudem explains that just because the Bible is God’s word doesn’t mean He dictated it all for humans to write down. Claiming that all Scripture is God’s words describes the result ,  to talk about dictation is to refer to the process . Grudem mentions other ways God’s has brought about the Scriptures, as well as dictation, Writers’ research (e.g. Luke 1.1-3), Dreams (see Ezekiel), Visions (See Peter in Acts), Jesus (John 1, Word made flesh), Holy Spirit (John 14-16), some of it we don’t know – but the method/process isn’t as important as the result. God works with sovereignty and power through all the human life, emotions and will to bring this book about. It is 100% God, 100% man.

Systematic Theology 3.c Canon of Scripture Applications

  1. Without the knowledge of which writings were/are God’s words my Christian life would be very messy. Firstly my devotional life, would probably involve leaning heavily on podcasts and articles from Christian scholars who really read a lot and were more experts. So I wouldn’t be able to hear God directly, it would be mostly through other people. My views on preaching would also be drastically changed, at the moment I subscribe to the view – that the preacher’s authority comes from the Word of God, and so I’m not too interested in analogies or stories. Those are all good at the right time, but when I am to preach His word, I will lean really on the Scripture passage alone.  So to not know, which texts really were His word…Mess. Finally I think my prayer life would be influenced. A lot of my prayers and journal entries consist of holding God’s promises out and latching onto them! Without knowing which “promises” were from God and what were wished by some writer years ago.
  2. I don’t have doubts about the canon of Scripture, having read them through several times, even though I don’t like what is said, I am reassured by the Holy Spirit that they are true. In fact, to be honest, it is only after reading this chapter and making notes that I feel more clarity is needed. There were books that Grudem didn’t explain in much detail, and the reasoning need more flesh to it. As a result I began watching John Piper’s in depth seminars on the canon of Scripture. I don’t feel yet I could argue the case of canoncy to someone sceptical yet. Not with logical reasons, only with Faith experience. I think the logic is important, especially to care for the doubts of others.
  3. In response to Mormons, JWs and others who claim to have “additional revelation”, I would argue that they do not hold the Words of the Bible to equal authority to their own “scriptures” and that they submit the Bible to the additional writings. Why do I think this? Because if the Bible was viewed at least equally to their additional writings, contradictions would be found. But to be honest, I know very little of these additional writings.
  4. I would be interested to read others scriptures (Apocrypha, Qur’an, Book of Mormon) at some point in my life. But not in place of my devotional life. But rather as an educational exercise. I think I would be encouraged reading the apocrypha.

 


End note: I set out on this quest keen to memorise the memory verse for each chapter. Unfortunately, like Boromir, that part failed. Or, in other words, I chose to not do it, because I’m currently trying to memorise Romans 8.

Systematic Theology 3.b Canon of Scripture NT

Part 2 of Canon of Scripture, and from the title – it’s a dead giveaway we’re looking at the New Testament this time. How did we get the books that are in the New Testament, why those and not others (e.g. Gospel of Thomas, Judas, Peter’s great aunt, and Mary’s second cousin twice removed). Furthermore why do we have Paul’s letters and why did Hebrews get added – who even wrote it!?

We get the writing of the Apostles, why? Because the  Holy Spirit enabled them to write down what Jesus said and did. Jesus promised this: John 14.26 and 16.13-14. Why else? Because Peter explains that God gives His commands through the Apostles. Do we need a third reason? Grudem thinks so: Because in the book of Acts there is this story that seems to demonstrate that lying to an apostle is the same as lying to God – Acts 5.2-4. All these reasons add up to point to the fact that the Apostles had God’s authority to record these things.

(Side note: this way of viewing apostles has had some influence on me as a kid, and so even now – understanding that people label things with labels that mean different things to different people – whenever someone uses the term “apostle” to describe another present-day Christian – I get a bit uneasy. Not that it’s wrong, I just don’t know whether it is. So I tend to stick with what I know when it comes to these types of things. Side note over.)

Paul was not one of the original apostles and he writes a big chunk of the New Testament, so why do we have him in our New Testament? Grudem explains that Paul claims for himself apostleship and that he is writing God’s word. (See long list copied by me – so subject to error – not thoroughly checked – see Grudem for correct quotes: 1 Cor 2.9,13,  14.37, 2 Cor 13.3, Rom 2.16, Gal 1.8-9, 1 Thes 2.13, 4.8,15, 5.27, 2 Thes 3.6,14.

Furthermore the letters of Paul are referred to by Peter (another Apostle) in the same way that OT scriptures were referred to (51 other times in the NT). 2 Peter 3.15-16.

So, if the apostles are included + Paul. We have Matthew, John, Romans -> Philemon, James, 1&2 Peter, 1-3 John and Revelation. So what remains?

Mark – is in because of his association with Peter.

Luke (writer of Luke & Acts) – is in because of association with Paul.

Jude – is in because of association with James (AKA brother of Jesus)

Hebrews – most complicated one. Is in because 1) assumed Pauline authorship. 2) its writing aligns without contradiction to the rest of Scripture.

Grudem points out that within 30 years both the Eastern (367AD) and Western (397 AD) sections of the Churches agreed, upon these books as canon. Separately and without influence from each other!

3 Simple takeaway reasons how we can have confidence with the books chosen:

  1. Holy Spirit persuades us books are right.
  2. Historical data is available to support claims books makes.
  3. There are no strong candidates or objections from anyone for another book. Those extra “gospels” or “writings” either a) claim for themselves not to be inspired e.g. Ignatius OR b) are filled with doctrinal errors e.g. Thomas: women need to become men.

At the end of the chapter Grudem asks “what if”… What if we discovered another book, written by Paul.

Both Hebrews 1.1-2 and Revelation 22.18-19 point to the fact that the Canon is closed and since the passage in revelation is at the end of revelation and by definition and content revelation should be the last book. But how do we know for sure?

The main reason is God’s faithfulness. He is faithful and loves us. He is in control of history. He does not lie or withhold what we need. On this basis we can rest secure.

Systematic Theology 2.b Word of God (Application)

81OXLmILZEL._SY355_Just to record some of my thought around the questions given at the end. There’s only two questions, but their like 2 really long questions, made up of lots of questions. For copyright reasons, I’m rephrasing and dividing the 2 big Qs into several smaller ones.

  1. a. Do I think I’d pay more attention to God if He spoke to me through another person, a voice from heaven than I do His written words of Scripture.

I remember in different seasons of life I would have answered this question differently. At the moment I’m usually quite cynical of others who declare that they are speaking God’s word to me without reference to Scripture. And that’s because I’ve had some bad experiences of this. So like a lot of Christians I’ve gone from one unhealthy extreme to another. (Although I like to think I’m not that extreme). At the moment I consider the Bible as my primary means of hearing from God.

  1. b. Would I believe God’s word through a person, voice from heaven more readily than I do scripture?

No. Like I said before Scripture for me is easier to believe – although this hasn’t always been the case. Saying this, there have been certain individuals in my life who I look up to and really respect (in large because of their close walk with God), who if they told me God had given them a Word for me I’d accept quite easily.

  1. c. Do I think my current level of response to the written words of Scripture is appropriate.

I think my engagement with Scripture is, I think I have a tendency to leave the response to the mental/emotional processing of the Word. And somewhere “between the altar and the door” lose the follow-through. I have found friends and other Christians really helpful in accountability and following through with Biblical convictions.

  1. d. What steps could I take to improve my attitude towards the written WoG?

At the moment I try to read through a book of the Bible a week, and I make notes and at the end have 3 things from that book that I really like. Something I don’t always do is come up with an application as a result of my reading. I think one step I could take is turning one of my three things into an application, telling someone, and following through.

2. a. Given the different ways God speaks and the frequency with which He communicates using these means – what conclusions would you draw about God (His nature and the things that bring Him delight).

God is a communicating God. He wants us to know Him, know His will and His ways. What brings Him delight? Good questions, I think listening to His words – like really taking them in must bring Him delight. If we are made in His image, then our communication and how we carry that out would also be important to Him. Given that as we communicate, we can reflect part of His nature.

I-will-effectively-communicate-with-others

Systematic Theology 2.a The Word of God

So we’re now on Part 1: The Doctrine of the Word of God.

Right off  the bat, not all these chapters are the same length. Unlike the introduction, I can fit the whole content of this  chapter in 1 post! Whhooopie! ten-commandments

There are 7 Chapters exploring this doctrine and this is the first, and it delves into the different forms of the Word of God (WoG). 

A. WoG – as a person (AKA Jesus): Rev 19.13, John 1.1&14 and 1 John 1.1 (Jesus as the Word of life).

B. WoG – as speach by God

  • God’s Decrees (e.g Genesis: “let there be light”, Psalm 33.6). A decrees is a word of God that causes something to happen.
  • Personal Address. There are plenty of times in the Bible where God speaks directly to a person/people. E.g. Adam, Moses and at Jesus’ baptism. Grudem points out that when God addresses people it is in a human language, and is understood. The fact that God uses human languages does not limit His words, or its meaning. (We might be tempted to think, just because the words are human languages, they must be fallible, how can anything human contain God?! – However the fact that God uses words humans’ understand does not limit them in the slightest!) Furthermore, if God’s word’s are understood obedience is expected.
  • Through Human lips. E.g the prophets, see Deut 18.18-20, Jer 1.9. Grudem again points out that, just because man is used in the process, God’s word is not diminished or unclear. I think this is a massive Gospel point, that God meets us where we are at, with the tools we have, and gives us His love, truth. Furthermore, it is a reflection of Jesus the God-Man. Just because God became man, does not mean that God was diminished or made less holy.
  • Written form. E.g 10 commandments Ex 31.18, actually written by the ‘Finger of God’. Not only does God write himself (see also Jesus writing in the sand), but He commands others to write down His words. (OT: Is 30.8, Jer 30.2) (NT: John 14.26, 1 Cor 14.37 and 2 Pet 3.2)

Grudem explains that the written WoG has several key benefits: A) it can be preserved more accurately over time, B) it allows opportunity for repeated inspection and C) it is accessible to more people. Furthermore throughout the Bible we are encouraged/commanded to study and meditate on the written WoG. Psalm 1:1-2, Josh 1.8, 2 Tim 3.16. Psalm 119.

Since the written WoG has all these benefits, it is the form that S.T. focuses on.

life-hangs-on-the-word-of-god-qyt0ej9s

Systematic Theology 1.c Introduction (Personal Reflection)

  1. In what ways (if any) has this chapter changed your understanding of what systematic theology iss? What is your attitude toward the study of S.T. before reading this chapter? What is your attitude now?

Well, since I’d already read this chapter I feel like I’m “cheating” with this answer. Not much has changed on this reading. However, on my first go, I had no idea what systematic theology was. I had no idea that there were other types of theology. I just knew that I wanted my theology to be based on the Bible. My attitude was pretty lukewarm. I was keen to learn because of my friend’s recommendation. But apart from that, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I think as well, there was an element of excitement. I love learning, and I love a challenge, getting a big book and turning page 1 is a bit of a geek-thrill.

2. What is likely to happen to a church or denomination that gives up learning systematic theology for a generation or longer? Has that been true of your church.

Good question. My first thought is that any church that stops studying this, would probably get caught up in false doctrine somewhere along the way. But probably they would also really struggle to train up leaders and disciples.

What?! You say. Since when do we need “Systematic Theology” in order to train disciples. Well, if part of the disciple-making process, according to Jesus, is teaching. Then having a systematic understanding of the Bible (AKA Jesus’ commands) really does make the process easier.

Where I think this gets confusing and needs a balance, has to do with the fact that Jesus never went ahead (according to what we know in Scripture) and started giving theology classes to his disciples. He lived it. But if a correct approach to studying S.T. is used, meaning that application and worship are coming out of study, we’re on the right tracks.

I remember hearing an Andy Stanley talk, where he criticised the argument that says “None of the disciples went to Bible College and yet they started a movement – why do we need all this study?!”. Stanley points out that, until Paul (one of the most scripture-educated people of his day) came along, Christianity wasn’t making much headway outside of Jerusalem. Good point.

Back-foot back on the defence again though, Paul did say that he counted all that knowledge and past-goodness as garbage compared to knowing Christ. But hey! If Christ is revealed in His words, teaching and the Bible. We’d be wise to study it carefully, thoroughly and…well, systematically.

But what about those in countries where there are no resources to study this (classes, books, freedom)? Well, what country do you live in now. What resources has God given you. Remember, if you have been given much, you have been trusted with much, and you’ll need to prove to be good stewards.

….so to recap without S.T. in a church for generation could cause: 1) False doctrines/teaching, 2) Struggle in fulfilling discipleship, 3) a slip in godliness – I added this in just now. Grudem pointed out that throughout the Bible sound doctrine is often connected with Godliness. I agree.

In terms of ‘is it the case in my church?’ …Hmmmm. We don’t teach it specifically. But there are key individuals in the Church who have made the effort to learn it, and do study the Bible diligently. Furthermore, one of the plus-sides to CofE, is that  Vicars go through Bible School for a season in order to be ordained. I think with that in mind I am blessed to be part of a Church that values and lives out sound doctrine!

3.a Doctrines from the contents page I’m attracted to/think would be useful now?

BROADLY: Future, Man, Church and SPECIFICALLY: Purity and Unity of the Church, Church Government, Sin, Conversion, Canon of Scripture.

3.b Dangers of studying S.T. for me?

All head knowledge – no application. All head knowledge – no love (God & man). Pride. Idolising the finish line.

4. Pray – I’ll go away and do that now!

 

Systematic Theology 1.b Introduction (Why & How)

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About this time last year I read a book by Simen Sinek, which has had a surprising impact on how I preach, teach and communicate ideas – even to a small group. The book is ‘Start with Why’. And in it he argues that instead of starting which What you do or How you do it you need to start with why. This sells people the vision, it keeps them motivated. Sinek argues that most people know what they do and how they do it. But few can express why they do what they do – and yet this is the most important. So why should I, why should we, study Systematic Theology.

Why not?

Grudem address some of the arguments people have against studying systematic theology and then gives responses.

  • “Since the conclusions are too neat and tidy they can’t be true”
  • “It is pointless, since whatever subject is chosen to be studied will determine the answers found.” (E.g. if you chose to study God’s sovereignty you’ll find arguments for Calvinism, but if you choose to study freewill you’ll be led towards Arminianism (a real word?)

Grudem gives good responses to these arguments. However these aren’t objections I have heard before, and ones I wouldn’t be tempted to make myself. For me the most compelling objection to studying systematic theology comes down to the fact that it should just be enough to read the Bible. I love the Bible, and I believe in it we have everything we need to learn to live a life of Godliness. So why should I study Systematic Theology?

I’ve been told to read books before, which summarise the Bible – and always had an inner frustration that we weren’t encouraged to simply read through the Bible itself. As someone who reads through the Bible regularly – what can systematic theology do for me? 

Well, Grudem makes clear that the purpose of S.T. isn’t to improve upon the Bible and give us special knowledge. But instead to help us understand the Bible’s voice on a variety of topics, to summarise and synthesise the whole of the Bible on any given topic, without reading it through from beginning to end every time we need an answer on a topic.

Furthermore it can help us carry out the Great Commission – Matthew 28:19-20. Of which, part of the commission is to ‘teach them to obey everything [He has] commanded us’. As someone who has been involved with teaching, and married to a teacher, I know the value of having an overview of a topic before introducing a fragment of it. By studying S.T. we can have overviews on Jesus’ teaching/commands through the whole Scripture (which we believe is all God-breathed, Spirit-inspired)!

The task of fulfilling the Great Commission includes therefore not only evangelism but also teaching 

To teach others – is the “Basic Reason” Grudem gives. Hence this blog and my desire to share with other Christians. May this knowledge also change the way I live that others see Jesus all the more.

The Benefit to our Lives – This is the 2nd reason given. By studying S.T.:

  • We can overcome wrong ideas (either innocent/naive or stubborn/rebellious). Grudem remarks that when we stubbornly disagree with a biblical idea, it can be helpful to feel the ‘Total weight of Scripture on an issue’.
  • Make better decisions, not just in life, but when it comes to future/unexpected disagreements with theology. Knowing what the Bible says on major doctrines, can clarify trip hazards in minor doctrines.
  • Help us grow as Christians – as noted in Scripture Godliness is often connected to Doctrine (1 Tim 1.10, 6.3)
  • Unity in the Church. This for me is so so important! I’ve come across this distinction before in my reading – between major and minor doctrines. Too often the Church divides over differences in minor doctrines, when it’s the major ones that are really important. What’s the difference?

He describes a Major Doctrine as one that has a big impact on how we view other doctrines (e.g. Authority of the Bible, Deity of Jesus, Justification by Faith etc.) whereas a Minor Doctrine has little impact on other doctrines (forms of Church government, timing of the Tribulation, food laws). Grudem explains that the concept of Major/Minor is more helpfully viewed as a spectrum rather than either/or. Aka: Some doctrines are more major than others. By being able to distinguish between the two, needless divisions and walkaway arguments need to happen.

I hope this is all followable!

So how should I study this?

  • With Prayer: we need the Power of the Holy Spirit, not just to learn this but to apply it. Therefore let us approach this prayerfully and maintaining our devotional lives and love for God.
  • With Humility: rightly is mentioned how knowledge often leads to pride – which puffs us up and isn’t useful without love (1 Cor 8:1, 13:1-3). There is a challenging quote on page 33, I’ll type out since pride is a big temptation for me personally – this is a good reminder:Pride

…it would be very easy to adopt an attitude of pride or superiority towards others who have not made such a study. But how ugly it would be if anyone were to use this knowledge of God’s Word simply to win arguments or to put down a fellow Christian in conversation, or to make another believer feel insignificant in the Lord’s work…

  • With Reason: Grudem argues that we should use our logic to draw deductions from Scripture, however we need to recognise that even though God has given us brilliant minds and abilities our deductions/reasoning are not level with Scripture and must be submitted to Scripture. By that he means that whenever we have reached a conclusion that is contradictory to Scripture, our idea is wrong.
  • With the help of others: be that books, peers, other Christians, by talking about what we’re learning. We are meant to grow and learn together – as Iron sharpens Iron.
  • With rejoicing and praise: What  God reveals to us through the Bible should result in awe, and praise and worship. I think the moment this slips, we are very much in danger of idolising ourselves/our minds. Our study – should result in God’s glory as we learn more about Him.

I want to make a third shorter post on this Chapter about the application questions, memory verse and what stood out to me this chapter. But then we’re starting PART 1!!! The Doctrine of the Word of God!!!!

Slow and steady wins the race, right?