Christian

The Value of Theology

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Today’s post seeks to demonstrate that there are different approaches that can be applied to theology and highlights the value theology can bring to any Christian, whether a Christian is in a leadership role or not.

The foremost importance in theology is to understand what theology is. Then, this post seeks to demonstrate the different approaches to theology and how theology can be applied not only to an intellectual understanding of theology but also a relational adoption of theology in your relationship with the Holy Trinity. In essence; this post will demonstrate how to be (and not be) an advocate for theology (Smith 2013).

In our pursuit of theology we yearn to understand God’s nature and purpose better, so we can live in accordance with His will in our lifetime and have the knowledge necessary to pass it down to the generations to come (Smith 2013:23).

The methods of theology

Theology uses four important words to explain how Theologians should reason and discourse with scripture are; hermeneutical, critical, correlational and dialogical (Smith 2013: 40).

These words imply theologians must have the ability to interpret the word of God, texts, events, actions and traditions in a biblical sense, but theologians cannot rely solely on their own interpretations, theologians rely on others, they rely on church traditions and they interrupt situations and experiences (Smith 2013:40).

Theologians must be able to carefully evaluate and examine interpretations by reviewing and understanding their own works and the works of others before them, of Christian texts, beliefs and practices.

Theologians cannot simply accept that a specific interpretation is correct nor do they evaluate and examine with the intention of finding fault in previous interpretations. It simply means we must evaluate interpretations by the Spirit, but test them all and hold onto what is good (Smith 2013 :40; 1 Thes 5:21).

Theologians must begin a dialogue with other Christians, that is to discuss a subject until there is a clear and unified understanding of the interpretation. Our understanding of God is deepened through discussion with other Christians (Smith 2013: 43).

Theologians search for relationships between interpretations of texts, traditions, trends, teachings, theories, ideas and practices and so on, those of the past and those of today. We often do this by looking for relationships between the word of God and our world (Smith 2013: 44). There is no limit to how many things and the nature of things we can search to find a relationship in (Smith 2013: 46).

Works Cited


The Holy Bible: New International Version. 2011 Biblica, Inc.
Smith, KG. 2013. ‘Introduction to Theology’ Johannesburg, South Africa: SATS Press.
Smith, KG. 2015. ‘Sceptics on the Value of Theology.’ Johannesburg: South African Theological Seminary.
Segal M 2015. You cannot serve both God and theology. Online article. Accessed from http://www.desiringgod.org, 2019-08-07.

Posted by Stephen Baragwanath, 0 comments

Encouragement during COVID-19 lockdown

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Move from idleness to encouragement

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.
Psalm 24:1-2

My hope today is that you will benefit deeply from this post, during these difficult and unprecedented times, as it points you toward hope, toward the Lord, and you experience the trials – and opportunities – of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis wherever you are in the world.

The first time Paul travelled to Thessalonica he was met with strong opposition. A mob of bad characters started to riot the city in search of Paul (Acts 17:5).  This mob was so set on destruction that they chased after Paul when he travelled to Berea. 

Life in Thessalonica was especially dangerous for a Christian. But still, in spite of the imminent danger, the church continued to grow, Paul still sent Timothy to watch over and care for the church in Thessalonica. Actually, a better way to phrase it is in light of the danger, Paul writes:14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-18) 

It would have been easier for Christians to hide quietly, in secret and ride out the danger. It would have been easy for the church to succumb to the dangers Thessalonica faced.  It would have been easy for Christians to lay low quietly, secretly, ride out the danger. 

The dangers and fears facing Thessalonica are perhaps similar to the dangers and fears facing the world today, not just with COVID-19 9 (Coronavirus), but in general too.  When lock down restrictions in your country are lifted, whether gradually or instantaneously, many of us may fear going out, many of us may fear to gather with people at church, attend social events or even have a family get together.  We may fear going back to the workplace. We may fear contact with other people completely. Some of us may choose to draw our curtains closed and barricade ourselves in our homes in hopes of avoiding the virus altogether. Should this happen, there is certainly the danger of us becoming idle. Even during lock down, there is the danger of becoming idle. We could start eating unhealthily, binge-watching TV series and movies, obsessing over news articles and becoming disconnected from the larger body of Christ.

Yet, despite the testing of any hope by an outbreak of death (1 Thessalonians 4:13), the Thessalonians were called to open their curtains and let light in. They were called to walk ahead of outsiders (1 Thessalonians 4:12) so that the Gospel could manifest. They were called to not be moved by afflictions (1 Thessalonians 3:3), but instead to encourage one another, to help the weak, and above all to be patient and persistent in encouragement and prayer.  

We are also called to do this. People are afraid. Every day the numbers of those affected are growing higher. Countries are on lock down, which means movement restrictions and social distancing.  We aren’t allowed to visit family and friends or go to work. This creates fear! Remember, Christians are called to generate faith, not fear! So instead of fuelling the fear fire, fuel the faith fire –  who can you encourage today? Who can you strengthen today? Who can you seek to do good for today? As needs arise, so do opportunities.  You too, like the Thessalonians, can rejoice (1 Thessalonians 5:16), pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:16) for it is God’s will that you are here, it is God’s will we find ourselves in this situation, it is God’s will for “the reason for this season”. “For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” for you.” So, put down the news articles. Close your laptop. Get off the couch. Get off your phone. Change out of your pyjamas and find someone you can bless. Start creating new and good habits that you continue when this season is over.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-25

Rejoicing in hope and praying with you all.

Posted by Stephen Baragwanath, 4 comments

#2 Misconceptions About Sharing The Gospel

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Have you ever doubted your abilities or effectiveness as a witness? I’ll admit, I have. I want to discuss some misconceptions about sharing the gospel that fuels fear in my heart and the hearts of other about witnessing. If you’ve struggled like I have with any of these, my intention is not to discourage you, but rather I pray you will be fully equipped to boldly take the Gospel of truth to the world.

And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men. Mark 1:17

Before reading on, I encourage you to read the first entry in this series. Click here to access it  #1: YOU MUST BE GOOD AT IT.  And while you at it, take a look at this simple, yet powerful picture of the Holy Trinity.

#2: Everything in your own life has to be together

Scriptures

Philippians 1:6 1 Corinthians 2:6-15 Romans 8:33-34 Hebrews 9:12 Romans 3:23

We hinder ourselves in witnessing for Jesus because of our issues, but here’s the truth –you don’t have to be perfect in order to be a Christian. Actually, if you think you’re a perfect Christian, then stop reading now… Did you stop reading?  I didn’t think so! It is made clear to us that perfection is not necessary in Galatians 6:3:

“If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

Furthermore, the Spirit encouraged you to begin witnessing in the first place, why would now want to “perfect” yourself my worldly standards? Galatians 3:3 says:

Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?

The Spirit points us to the sacrifice of Jesus. Our flesh brags about our own achievements and abilities. To accept God’s grace, we must admit that God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Why then do we get so caught up with our own “perfect” performances?

When we focus on “how well we’re doing” as Christians, it’s easy to let mistakes impair us. We also fear that the lost will see through our facade and point out our imperfections.

I have good news: God still has grace for us and it is still sufficient for you and me (2 Corinthians 12:9). You don’t have to be perfect to be a witness. You don’t have to appear perfect either. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. You can testify of the changes God has made in your life, but you can also be honest about the work God is still doing. Philippians 1:6 encourages us, saying:

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Yes, God redeemed and delivered when you repented, believed in Jesus and were baptised. However, He continues to do a good work in you—God’s not done yet, you’re not done yet. This is no excuse for sin, we all sin a fall short of the glory of God. I’m saying, don’t undervalue the power of God’s grace. Don’t let your current struggle pull you down.  Endure through the struggles (2 Timothy 2:10).

Jesus gave Himself up before God as the perfect sacrifice for your sins. He pleaded your case in the courts of heaven. He defended you against the convicting claims of the enemy. He continues to defend you. Your justification is not based on your works or actions, but on the blood of Christ.

Sanctification is an ongoing process. As believers, we are complete in our identity, but our transformation is continual and a lifetime commitment. When we trust in our own righteous acts, we’re acting like we’ve arrived. It’s as if we no longer need grace. But no matter who you are, you still need it. I still need it.

Let God take the pressure off. Your “perfection” isn’t what draws people to the Gospel. Jesus draws you in, He draws us all in (John12:32).  The transforming work in your life can and should act as a testimony to others (without a test, there can be no testimony). However, even if you feel like you’ve got a long way to go, you can be a witness today. God has the power to save people despite our imperfections.

What we receive to be witnesses is not of this world, but from the Spirit who is from God.  The Spirit intercedes for us, Jesus, who is at the right hand of God, intercedes for us, so that we may understand what God has for us.

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath, 4 comments