The character and works of God are incredibly diverse and multifaceted. Thousands upon thousands of words have been written in an attempt to summarize them. Collections of these works often become textbooks and required reading for Bible college and seminary students.
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Although no written systematization of biblical truth can or should replace the Scriptures, theologians do their utmost to put into order what God has chosen to reveal over thousands of years. By using the word “order” I do not mean to imply God haphazardly revelas his truth to us. However, it’s dangerous for us to draw conclusions without considering all of the biblical data on any given topic.
Systematic and Biblical Theologians must account for all of the evidence without omission. Every portion of Scripture is essential and indispensable if we hope to present a complete and credible work.
Theological Duct Tape
The questions I want to weave through this four part series are simple: What would happen if we omit the doctrines of God’s love, justice, sovereignty and accessibility?
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Two possibilities become tragic realities if we choose to ignore truths God reveals in his Word. And I have not decided which of the two is worse. The first tragedy involves an incomplete view of ourselves. Clearly doctrine was never meant to be entertainment for entertainment’s sake or words on paper. Doctrine was also never meant to be concealed or hidden. God gave us truth so that the Holy Spirit may skewer our sin nature and effectually change us by his power. When we do not give some doctrines their proper attention we handicap ourselves from becoming the man or woman that he wants us to be. We should never forget that God wants his people to grow and the means by which he accomplishes this is through the power of his Word!
Second, omitting a doctrine ultimately leads to an incomplete and insufficient view of God. Say, for example, you go to an art show in town and walk up to a painting of a young man playing baseball. He is standing at home plate waiting for the pitcher to throw. And by the shading, detail and expressions on the faces in the crowd you can tell that the game may very well depend on the outcome of what the young man up to bat may or may not accomplish. Now, you might say, that is all fine and well.You reach into your back pocket and you happen to have a roll of duct tape. You cut off a inch or so sized piece for yourself and proceed to place it over batter’s face on the canvas thus removing his expression and head altogether from view. What have you just done besides an act of vandalism? You have just taken away an element of the painting that undoubtedly gave a lot of force and meaning to the mood the painter was trying to convey. Now, the full impact of the painting and all of the elements are partially diminished. Some people do something similar to their view of God. They mentally “duct tape” a portion of his character out of sight. They change their God into something different. He becomes diminished. He is not the God revealed in Scripture. The sad reality is that many may even observe this “duct tape” in your life, but you’re blind to its existence.
Let me give you a little assignment. This may sound ridiculous at first (I don’t really expect anyone to do this but I think you will get the point). Go buy a brand new Bible, a sharpie and take a day off work. Sit down and read through the whole Bible (if you could actually do it in a day). Every time you read a reference to God’s love, justice, sovereignty, and accessibility completely mark it out with your sharpie.
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Now when I say, “mark it out” I mean blot out the words. Once you are convinced that all references to God’s love are omitted go back to the first chapter of Genesis and start reading again. As you go through the Scriptures a second time I want you to develop for yourself a biblical theology of the above characteristics of God. How helpful would your conclusions be for yourself and others? I’m afraid not too helpful. Next month we will discuss the love of God. Is God glorious without his love? Could you live without knowing that God loves you? We will attempt to answer these questions.