Monday, November 01, 2004

Another Overview

You won’t find the word “thideology” in any dictionary, and for good reason. I made it up. But, inasmuch as this blog is all about thideology I will share with you how I came to be convicted about the importance of this course of study and why.

The word thideology comes from combining the words theology (defined as the study of God) and ideology (defined as concepts about human life and culture). So, the goal of thideology is to take a look at our ideology – the way we view of the world, our beliefs on government, law, culture, and human behavior – and see if it is consistent with orthodox Christian theology. The idea is to hold up our belief system to the scrutiny of Scripture.

I began to consider the combination of these two schools of thought when I looked at the state of the modern church and saw a developing polarization among believers. On one hand there are believers who look at theology as dry, useless theory. They view the study of biblical concepts as a waste of time and those who engage in it as eggheads or bookworms. They often say things like, “Just give me something I can use in my everyday life,” or “I just need the practical application,” or “I don’t want to get bogged down with doctrine, I just want a relationship with God.”

On the other hand there are those who have allowed their love of theology and doctrine to overshadow their love of God. They spend all of their time reading systematic theology books and Gospel harmonies and never take the time to put what they’ve learned into practice. For them the knowledge of God has become an end in itself. They view people who neglect the deeper study of Scripture as lazy and spiritually immature.

The interesting thing is this: both groups are right and both groups are wrong.

The “practical” crowd is correct in placing an emphasis on Christian living. But they are dead wrong for overlooking the study of theology as something dry, boring, or useless. It is anything but. This is where the “theological” crowd gets it right.

Our world – and everything in it – is nothing more than the creation of God. He spoke it into existence. He has also revealed to us in Scripture a great many truths about His nature, our nature, and the nature of the world around us. The study of these things is of vital importance to the life of a believer in Jesus Christ. We best understand creation when we learn about the Creator. It is only after we learn to view God’s world through the lens of His Word that we may have “life, and have it more abundantly.”

The best Christian life is lived when both orthodoxy (correct belief) and orthopraxy (correct practice) are both embraced. It is true that the study of theology is only the first step in the life lived for Christ. But it is an absolutely necessary first step.

Without a sound foundation in solid biblical theology one is in danger of traipsing off into false teaching and heresy in search of something “practical.” Remember, a lot of “practical” lessons can be learned from a lot of religious groups whose theology is not biblical Christianity and will ultimately lead to destruction. Practicality does not save.

Spending time in God’s Word, contemplating the things of God and understanding our place before a Holy God is absolutely vital. But if we stop with study and never “go and make disciples” or minister in Jesus’ name then we have a dead faith. If theology is vital then it is equally vital to put that knowledge to work.

The goal, then, of thideology is to help Christians develop a sound biblical worldview and apply that worldview to their lives so that God may be glorified.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

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