Those of you who have followed me in past blogs know I am a big fan of understanding the meaning of a specific word. A specific word to me is one that is used to introduce a person, place, thing, event, present a question, or direct our thoughts or conversations toward a shared opinion. I know the correct use of a word is important, correct being the context it is used to convey a thought or point. Today’s blog deals with two specific words, Theology and Conscience. First: Theology is the study of religion. … The study of theology is part philosophy, part history, part anthropology, and also something entirely its own. Theologians have the complex job of thinking about and debating the nature of God. Studying theology means taking on challenging questions about the meaning of religion. Next: What does it mean to have a conscience? One definition being the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action: to follow the dictates of conscience – the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.
Theology had an important role in the development of the early church. Four important functions of theology were, catechetical, the apologetical, the polemical and the homiletical. Let’s start with the first and keep it simple. Catechetical relates to Christian instruction.
: a convert to Christianity receiving training in doctrine and discipline before baptism
: one receiving instruction in the basic doctrines of Christianity before admission to communicant membership in a church
Next we look at the word apologetical, a systemic defense of an, often religious, position.
Apologetics is the religious discipline of defending religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse. Early Christian writers who defended their beliefs against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called Christian apologists. In 21st-century usage, apologetics is often identified with debates over religion and theology.
On to polemical which in its polemical function, Christian theologians defended and expounded the biblical faith against heretical threats from within the church. It was the early church defending itself against controversial or other writings that were disputatious to the church. A christian must grow and mature in the faith and not be blown elsewhere by false teachings.
: of, relating to, or being a polemic : CONTROVERSIAL
: engaged in or addicted to polemics : DISPUTATIOUS
Now the last being Homiletics, in religion, this is the application of the general principles of rhetoric to the specific art of public preaching. One who practices or studies homiletics may be called a homilist, or more colloquially a preacher. Two among many are these scriptures which says a lot in a few words. First Timothy 4:13 Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching.There is also Titus 1:9, one of many attributes needed by an Elder, He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
I have often stated my worry about the increasing pressures on the “church” that are forcing it to take a path that is being guided by those with a personal agenda who are taking biblical texts out of their biblical contexts and allowing them to be driven by societal demands for change. A sound Theology provides a firm foundation to judge whether we are growing and serving Christ as the Great Commission charged us to do and are we obedient to his will? For most of us in the pew, it is the simple direct word of the gospel that drives our Theology.
John 6: 35-40
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” It may seem to many of us in the pew that Theology is the equivalent of a course in Christian Algebra, we need it but just find it hard to understand.
Theology is the Church’s Conscience. Thanks for being in the Pew this week. Below are the reference materials used for today’s blog.
Life is Good
Theology – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theology
The Role of Theology By John Jefferson Davis, Ph.D.
Merriam – Webster