Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Doctrinal precisionism

You have got to love a good bit of distinguishing. That was the kind of thing we were into a theological college. And for good reason. We often need it. It is good for us to try to think precisely. Apart from anything else it is good exercise. Loving God with our minds matters. We serve a precise God. To go wrong by 1 degree can soon put you miles off course. A small error here can lead to three big errors over there. Ideas have trajectories.

But, as one of our theological college lecturers once said, "why this doctrinal hair-splitting?". The answer should always be for the sake of love and obedience. Truth must be applied if it is to be truly known. Even if we can't see what difference this qualification makes today, we should pray that in twenty years it will help us to live better.

So it is good to get it right if we can.

But there are also far more important things. Yes, tithe your doctrines of the Trinity and your concept of revelation, but do not neglect the weightier matters of love and mercy. The theologian who centuries ago would have had inky hands must also be willing to get them dirty in washing the feet of others.

And the mode of discourse of the Reformed Scholastics is not the only, the best or the most appropriate form all the time. Can your theology by prayed and sung? Does it preach to the heart and will? Yes, be precise, but there is also a place for poetry in theology. Make it right but make it beautiful too.

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