Why online education and why just 36 hours for the Master of Theological Studies (MTS)? Is a fully online Master of Divinity (MDiv) next? I have gotten these questions a lot over the past month. Continue reading
Monthly Archives: April 2013
Today, April 22, 2013, many will celebrate Earth Day in an effort to bring attention to climate change and to reduce our carbon footprint. The secular event serves as a good reminder about caring for the earth, but how you look at Earth Day will differ depending on your worldview.
If you have a biblical worldview, then you believe something similar to the following: 1) God created everything and gave mankind the command to exercise dominion over creation; 2) mankind fell, sinning against God and suffering the consequences of sin; 3) God sent his Son, Jesus, to redeem mankind through a substitutionary sacrifice on the cross paying the penalty of sin and conquering death through His resurrection; and 4) Jesus will return one day and eventually create a new heaven and a new earth.
From a biblical worldview, we take care of the earth as a matter of stewardship. God has given mankind the stewardship to exercise dominion, but part of that stewardship includes leaving the earth better than we found it for the next generation. We should not selfishly use resources for ourselves because that does not demonstrate a love for God and His creation or loving our neighbors as ourselves…even those neighbors in the next generation. Stewardship forms our primary motivation because we recognize that eventually a just God will judge us all. The eternal continuation of the earth, however, does not compel us because we believe that God will create a new heaven and a new earth one day.
If you have a secular worldview, then you believe something similar to the following: 1) the earth evolved over time resulting in mankind; 2) all reality and life centers on human beings; 3) as mankind gains knowledge and understanding humans can evolve to become better in each generation; 4) once a person dies who knows what happens; and 5) if humanity fails to care for the earth, then mankind will cease to exist.
From a secular worldview, mankind takes care of the earth to insure the continuation of the human race. If climate change continues, then eventually the earth will become uninhabitable and the human race will cease to exist. While there is a sense of stewardship, the primary motivation comes from an obligation to the human race to preserve mother earth for future generations. It is a responsibility not to God, but to humanity.
We see some from a biblical worldview who overlook the secular founding and support Earth Day while others critique it. Those who support Earth Day focus on a Christian’s stewardship of God’s creation. Those who reject Earth Day focus on the new heaven and new earth that will be created and a perceived human centered perspective in the secular movement.
I want you to recognize the opportunity to further the Gospel no matter what you think about Earth Day. Christians have both an obligation both to love God by demonstrating good stewardship of His creation, and an obligation to love others by sharing the Gospel message with them. Conversations about Earth Day can lead to a Gospel conversation that includes Jesus’ death, resurrection, and future creation of a new earth day—an earth that won’t have problems with carbon footprints.
“Earth Day was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin and organized by Denis Hayes in 1970.” http://www.earthday.org/frequently-asked-questions-0 and http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement
This week I have had several theological discussions. In some of these conversations, people wanted to understand everything about God. God used these conversations to remind me that He is infinite and that I am finite. I will never be able to comprehend the God that created the universe, sent Jesus born of a virgin, loved us so much that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, raised Jesus from the dead, and will restore His creation one day. Consider the following:
Isaiah 55:8-9:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Romans 11:33-34, “33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
1 Cor. 2:16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?…”
And who can forget God responding to Job in chapters 38 and following, 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.”
Instead of trying so hard to make God fit into our box created by our own fallen and finite brains, we should worship the indescribable, infinite God revealed to us in Scripture. The God of Scripture won’t fit into our box, and if “a god” does fit into your box, then you have likely created an idol in your own mind. Let Scripture speak and rest in knowing that we serve an incomprehensibly great God.
Discussing our attempts to put God in a box reminded me of a video I produced a couple of years ago in an online Systematic Theology class. I am bringing it out of the archives. I hope you enjoy it. I call it Waffle Iron Theology.
Where Do I Start?
You obviously need to start with knowing the Scripture rather than reading what someone else has said about the Scripture. So first, you should read your Bible. I would also recommend purchasing the Bible on CD. I imported the ESV Bible into my iTunes account and have it on my phone. When I am running, lifting weights or driving for an extended time, I listen to entire books of the Bible to saturate myself continuously with God’s Word. Continue reading
A proper study of Systematic Theology will also show you what matters most and what matters least. While we must seek to obey all doctrines of the Bible, I cannot cooperate with someone believing in works based salvation or that Jesus was created.
I can, however, cooperate with someone who holds to an old earth view of creation or post-tribulation view of the rapture. I have good friends who hold both of those positions even though I disagree. Learning to distinguish the essential or first tier doctrines from secondary or tertiary doctrines comes with proper study of Systematic Theology. It does not excuse you from obeying everything God has commanded you as though you can pick and choose at a theological buffet, but it does provide a framework for cooperation in church matters verses social matters.
Two final examples where theology may apply come in your belief about creation and baptism. Perhaps you have been ridiculed for holding to a young earth view. Systematic Theology will study multiple views, and identify which views will align with Scripture and which ones will not. I believe in six day literal creation.
Consider Mark 10:6, which says,
Mark 10:6, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Continue reading