Volume 8 - Issue 1
Serving Christ through theological studyBy David Wenham
Why bother studying theology? Some people would argue that there are many more useful ways of serving Christ in a needy world. But that is not true: Christians believe that the world’s greatest need is to find God and his will, and that God and his will have been revealed supremely in Jesus Christ. That revelation has been transmitted to us through the inspired Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and there is therefore no more important or practically useful way of serving Christ and his world than by studying the biblical revelation and seeking to apply it faithfully to today’s world.
That is not to say that theological study is always useful. Unfortunately theologians often confuse and mislead. Theological study can turn us into today’s false prophets, which is why many Christians are suspicious of theology and theologians. As theological students we must recognize this real danger; we must beware of the strong and subtle temptation to modify our commitment, and we must seek to ensure that we are serving Christ in our theological studies.
Serving Christ in our theological studies means many things: it means seeking to please him by the faithfulness, humility and honesty of our work—we must be ‘open’ in the sense of being humble and honest, not in the sense that we pretend We don’t believe what we do believe! It means prayerful dependence on Christ, since we know how easily we fall into error. It means caring for other students around us, and seeing all our studies as service. It means basing our theological thinking on God’s revelation of himself in Jesus—on the Jesus of the New Testament, not on some more convenient or contemporary Jesus of our own choosing.
Two articles in this Themelios look at questions of Christology. The old questions of the divinity and humanity of Christ are still very much with us; and, as in the early church, there are those today who neglect the real humanity of Jesus, and there are others who emphasize Jesus’ humanity in such a way as to exclude his divinity. Probably the most serious feature of much modern theology is its loss of a belief in Jesus as truly divine—witness the doubts about his miracles and the questioning of his teaching. Not that it is always easy for us, any more than it was for the early church, to be clear exactly what is true and biblical in the matter of Christology. But we must be as determined as they were to hold fast to the revelation of God in Christ: to honour Jesus as Lord, and to follow his teaching.
Defending orthodoxy is not a very popular activity in some theological circles, and our concern should certainly not only be to defend the truth, but also to grow in understanding it. Nevertheless for the Christian the truth is in Jesus, and that truth must at all costs be preserved, proclaimed and lived out. Paul sums it up when he declares that ‘No other foundation (themelios) can any one lay than that which is laid, Jesus Christ’ (1 Cor. 3:11).
In the survey of 1980 journals in Themelios vol 7 no 2 the statement on p. 8 lines 21–33 ‘divine omniscience does not include knowledge of actual future events’ should have been followed by reference to B. L. Hebblethwaite’s article ‘Some Reflections on Predestination, Providence and Divine Foreknowledge’ (RS 15:4 (Dec. 1979), pp. 433–448). Stephen T. Davis argues in his article, ‘Divine Omniscience and Human Freedom’ (RS 15:3 (Sept. 1979), pp. 303–316), that human freedom and God’s foreknowledge of all future events are logically consistent. We apologize for this typing error.