As I continue to study theology and to work my way through Biblical Doctrine, I have decided, in the interest of reading broadly and allowing myself to experience different positions, to work in different authors and resources to work through and to learn more about theology.
So, in the interest of broadening my understanding of what theology is, I decided that right now is the perfect opportunity to read R.C. Sproul’s Everyone’s a Theologian. It’s a miniature work compared to Biblical Doctrine at a mere 339 pages of text. (The print and spacing is also not quite as teensy as the format of Biblical Doctrine.)
I do have two caveats about Sproul before we get started, and then I won’t mention them from here on forward. (1) Sproul is a reformed theologian and one of the biggest apologists for Calvinism in modern theology. If you are wanting to completely avoid reformed theology, he’s not an author you will want to read. (2) I sometimes disagree violently with Sproul and his ideas, but I have never found engaging with his ideas anything less than worthwhile endeavor, and I consider him to be an excellent and learned Christian.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about theology.
Sproul discusses the value of theology, much as I have over numerous blog posts, so you know that we both consider studying theology to be of great value. In fact, Sproul goes so far as to say,
Theology is unavoidable for every Christian. It is our attempt to understand the truth that God has revealed to us–something every Christian does. So it is not a question of whether we are going to engage in theology; it is a question of whether or theology is sound or unsound.
Along the way, Sproul asserts that that theology is a science. Science comes from the Latin word that means “knowledge,” so he feels that since theology is an -ology of God that it is similar to the quest for knowledge in biology or in physics. I don’t think I buy that argument for because of points that Sproul makes further along in the text. For example, he mentions that in sciences like physics we find anomalies that can’t be explained by current scientific theory. In those cases, sometimes new scientific theories contain a huge paradigm shift that completely changes the way we view science.
On the other hand, theology doesn’t have that. Instead changes in theology seem to come from two errors. First, people might be trying to make the Bible conform to current cultural ideas. Second, if we segment the scriptures too deeply, we might find ourselves developing contradictions that don’t exist if we take the scriptures as a whole.
Both of these errors are ones that I have seen, however, as we become more invested in how differently theology and a science like biology works, I think we can rule theology out as a science in the same way that physics or chemistry is. Instead, we should ascribe a great weight to the words of God and remember that we have the answers in front of us theology. Unlike in biology or chemistry, we don’t have to wonder the answers to our questions.
(I’ll be back soon with more consideration of Sproul.)