The Flattening of the Theological Landscape

June 18, 2008 at 6:07 pm Leave a comment

I remembered reading a blog post where Al Mohler rightly noticed that “assaults upon the Christian faith are no longer directed only at isolated doctrines. The entire structure of Christian truth is now under attack by those who would subvert Christianity’s theological integrity.”

We might be tempted to think that these attacks come only from outside the church. Not the case. It is true that within Christianity we often disagree over certain things, some have taken these disagreements as reason to dismiss the church all together. Throwing the baby out with the bath water?

In a recent book, an author wrote that assuming “our convictions about God are somehow timeless is the deepest arrogance”. He goes on charging that throughout church history, Christians have “held positions” on issues “with deep conviction”, and have been wrong.

Here’s the thing, I see no problem with disagreeing over certain things. But when it comes down to it there are issues that I cannot waver on. These are the timeless convictions of historic Christianity. These first tier issues are essential to proper theology, issues such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ (which is connected with the virgin birth), justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture. Throwing out these doctrines have deleterious effects on our whole system of belief. In fact, I don’t see how a group of people can dismiss these issues and still claim to be a church, in the biblical sense.

While God has not revealed himself exhaustively, he has revealed himself sufficiently in his word. It is from here that we do ‘theology’. My fear is that many people are being tempted to adopt a ‘pseudo-theology’ that asserts humans as the primary judge on truth. The same author argues that theology is local, and originates in us. This cannot be further than the truth, for me.

Much of these thoughts come after reading the material coming out of a movement called the emergent village. The author I quoted above was Tony Jones. While I do think these guys are raising some good questions, I fear that their methods of theology are very dangerous.

It seems that many within the emergent movement attempt to flatten the theological landscape, putting all theological issues on the same ‘plane’. The problem with this is simple, it allows one to ignore specific theological issues, and emphasize others without considering the effects of dismissing certain doctrines. While at some points we all emphasize certain doctrines over others, we should never completely ignore doctrines, or change doctrines in light of changes in culture.

When flattening the tiers of theology, you can do away with what you want, or what you feel is ‘unnecessary’ and believe that it will have “no effect” on the whole system. While in reality, our doctrines are so intimately connected that what you hold on one issue can have major implications on other doctrines.

Have you ever wondered what doctrines you can disagree about with other Christians and still be able to partner in the Gospel? If you have never thought this through, you need to. In an age of relativism it is quite easy to waver on the essentials, and many books in our Christian book stores operate under these assumptions. The point is, when you attack isolated doctrines it does have implications on other doctrines, and your faith as a whole. Be thinking Christians.

Dr. Albert Mohler wrote a thought provoking article on this issue.

Entry filed under: Religion.

Every Christian a Theologian. Need some dance moves?

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