When you finish this session you should be able to:
- Understand the definition of perspective
- Comprehend why folks don’t think they need to understand theology
- Comprehend the goals of the session in this study
- Understand what each of the session will cover
- Find a bibliography of selected books
In this session, we will introduce you to the idea of what perspective is. First, by introducing out guiding definition. Second, by helping you understand one of the reasons why folks don’t think they need to understand theology. Third, by helping the reader comprehend the goals that guide this study. Then, help the reader understand what each session covers. Finally, providing a bibliography to assist you to find more information about the subject matter.
Where We Are Going
I don’t need “no” theology
Understanding the goals of the sessions
Knowing what each session will study
Provide a beginning bibliography to assist you in your ongoing study
Perspective: To have a point of view, angle, outlook, slant
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God (Phil. 1.9-11).
One of Paul’s desires for the Philippians was that the community’s love may be increased by knowledge and a depth of insight so that they would be able to discern what is best in their life as a community. Knowledge suggests having a mental grasp of the intimate relationship with God. Depth of insight means to have the correct perception (perspective) so that a correct choice can be made. A better knowledge of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Scripture in general, and the ability to make choices based on that knowledge will bring more harmony into your life and your ecclesia community.
To have a perspective is to see things from their many different dimensions. Our limited perception of things usually causes us to make inadequate decisions in life. For a believer, perspective is to see things from God’s point of view as he has presented them in Scripture. As an example: Scripture does not present God as a one-dimensional character but presents him by his acts that demonstrate the many different sides to his character. To know only one dimension of God will cause us to make defective decisions when faced with problems in life. In Scripture God acts on behalf of his people. Knowledge is knowing that he has acted. Perspective is the ability to make better decisions in life based on your knowledge of what he did. The end result is an experience.
There are four benefits of having a biblical perspective:
- Having a biblical perspective will allow us to love God more. The better we understand the ways of God, the more we can and will love him.
- Having a biblical perspective will help us in times of attacks and trials. When we gain God’s perspective on life, we can look beyond the present and see life through God colored glasses.
- Having a biblical perspective will help us resist temptation. When we look at a situation from God’s point of view, we realize the long term consequences of sin is greater than the short-term pleasures.
- Having a biblical perspective will protect us from error. One of the problems with our present culture is not that it believes nothing. It is that it believes everything. Syncretism not skepticism is the enemy.
- To have a perspective on God will help you relate to him better.
- To have a perspective on Jesus will help you follow him better.
- To have a perspective on the Holy Spirit will help you respond to him better.
- To have a perspective on Scripture will help you understand it better.
- To have a perspective on the Kingdom will help you live in it better.
- To have a perspective on the Ecclesiae will help you relate to each other better.
- To have a perspective on Prayer will help you communicate with God better.
- To have a perspective on the Second Coming will help you rest better.
- To have a perspective on Salvation will help you live your new life better.
I Don’t Need No Theology
Theology! Not a word that many followers of Jesus like. “Don’t teach me theology,” I’ve been told. “Just tell me what the Bible says.” I find this to be an interesting statement when I hear it. In fact, when you come to understand the Bible’s teaching, you are at that moment understanding its theology! Theology is simply what an author of Scripture writes when presenting to an ecclesia or a person, as in Timothy, Titus, or Philemon about a problem in the ecclesiae as in Second Timothy 2 and 3. Paul suggests a way of think therein that concludes with these words, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” Scripture is not a history book, nor a poetry book, it is a theological book. Its main intent is to share with its readers the insights about God that will make the reader want to be in a relationship with God. Theology is an activity in which one thinks and speaks about God. This process is often called theologizing. Thus the by-product of theologizing is theology. Theology includes many disciplines: exegesis, biblical theology, historical theology, ethics, apologetics, spirituality, liturgy, and practical theology. The end result of theology should be the praise of God that leads to God being honored and praised!
When I attended Fuller in the late ‘70s of the last century, wow, does that make me feel old, I took Ladd’s course on New Testament Theology. He was a no-nonsense professor. He came to class only with his Greek New Testament and his brilliant theological mind. Our course work was centered around two areas, the exegesis of a specific passage in the New Testament, i.e., he would call at random a student and quiz him orally about the Greek passage. I remember in the first class, he called on a student and began to quiz him orally. After a few moments, the student finally admitted that he did not know the answers being posed by Ladd. At that moment Ladd leaned across the lectern and pointed his index finger at the student and said, “You’re right, you do not know.” I immediately turned to my friend Steve Robbins and whispered, “remind me to never come to class without knowing how to exegete the “Greek passage of the day.”
The late George Ladd’s book A Theology of the New Testament, makes a distinction between biblical theology and dogmatic theology, the latter I take to mean “systematic theology” as it has been presented. He writes:
There is a sharpy held distinction “between biblical theology and dogmatic theology. The former must be strictly historical and independent of dogmatic theology, tracing the rise of religious ideas in Israel and setting forth what the biblical writers thought about religious matters. Dogmatic theology, on the other hand, makes use of biblical theology, extracting from it what has universal relevance and making use of philosophical concepts. Dogmatic theology is that which a particular theologian decides about divine matters, considered philosophically and rationally in accordance with the outlook and demand of his or her own age, but biblical theology is concerned solely with what people believed long ago.”[ref]Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament. 2). Eerdmans Publishing Co – A. Kindle Edition.[/ref]
Suffice to say, many of the concepts that you will encounter in this set of sessions had their birth in that course.
Years later when I was pastoring a small Assemblies of God church in Simi Valley, California, I was asked to leave by the congregation by a narrow one-vote margin because they complained to the regional denominational bosses about my teaching, The method that I had chosen to use in my teaching/preaching career was not topical, i.e., systematic theology, but book studies encountering the text within his historical context and then endeavoring to help the parishioners to understand what a specific passage in the book we were encountering together meant to the first hearer and in light of that meaning what it meant to the congregants in that local ecclesia. That encounter only solidified my approach to teaching.
While this set of sessions may look like systematic theology, it is not, the concepts are based on the concept of biblical theology.
This series of sessions are designed to help you think through some of the major theological concepts in Scripture. It takes a slightly altered approach from the traditional way of looking at systematic theology. I trust the student will be aware of this factor as he or she approaches this material in these sessions.
The Goals of the Sessions
These sessions objectives are:
- To provide an overview of nine standard concepts that are often heard in the world of the ecclesiae.
- To observe the material in a way that will enhance your own approach to thinking and talking about biblical theology.
- To illustrate the foundation to which these standard ideas point.
- To help the followers of Jesus interact with the material so that they have a firmer grasp and a perspective on life through God colored glasses rather than the common presentations of “points of proof” which are so often delivered from the pulpits of today’s ecclesiae so that the reader may become stronger in his/her belief and practice of Christianity for the sake of the world.
The Holy Bible: The New International Version or other versions of the reader’s choice. All of the quoted references are from the NIV 2011 edition found at BibleGateway. (https://www.biblegateway.com/)[ref]THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. [/ref], unless otherwise noted.
- Lewis, Gordon R. Decide for Yourself: A Theological Workbook. Wipf and Stock Publishers.
- Sproul. R.C. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith. Tyndale Momentum (February 18, 2011).
- Introduction: Seeing Life Thru God Colored Glasses
- Is Doctrine Really Dull?
- Grasping the Acts of God
- Grasping the Acts of Jesus
- The Holy Spirit as Continuator Grasping the Acts of the Spirit
- Grasping the Kingdom of God
- Grasping the Metaphors of Salvation
- Grasping the Ecclesiae
- Grasping the Second Coming
- Grasping Scripture
Theology: A Selected Bibliography
First Testament Theology
- Bruce C. Birch, Walter Brueggemann A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament. Abingdon Press; 2 edition (December 1, 2011)
- John Goldingay. Old Testament Theology: Israel’s Faith.
- Walter C. Kaiser. Toward an Old Testament Theology.
Second Testament Theology
- Ladd, George E. A Theology of the New Testament. Revised Edition, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2010.
- George Ladd. The Gospel of the Kingdom.
- N.T. Wright. The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians.
- Stanley J. Grenz. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2000.
- Williams, J. Rodman. Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Community Discussion Questions
➡ |CDQ Info|
- What do you think is important about having a life perspective based on theology.
- What is the distinction “between biblical theology and dogmatic theology” and why is that important to Jesus followers.