Loving God is Knowing God by Don Soriano

How does Theology is linked to the fulfillment of the Greatest and First Commandment?
What is Theology? What is the difference between Theology and Religion? What are the various major kinds of Theology? Do we really need Theology? What should be the ultimate objective and result of Theology? Knowing the answers to these questions should lead us towards engaging ourselves in it.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, known as the Shema (Hebrew for “hear”), has become the Jewish confession of faith, recited twice daily (every morning and evening), by the faithful Jews, and encapsulates the idea of total devotion to God. All Israelites (i.e., the people of God) in their total being are to love the Lord; “this is the great and first commandment”, Jesus teaches in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew 22:37-38, Mark 12:29-30, Luke 10:27). First in the list of all that was essential for the Jew was unreserved, wholehearted commitment expressed in love to God being demonstrated in obedience to God’s law in daily life.
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). It is clear then, that we cannot love God if we do not love His truth. We cannot love His truth if we do not know them. The Bible teaches that the natural man does not seek after God. The fallen man by nature does not love God at all. Regeneration is the necessary condition for loving God with our minds. Without it, there is no love of God.
How about us, Christians or those who claimed to be one? When we are born again, we are given a desire to have God in our thinking rather than despising the idea of having God in our thinking. But (of course) the residual effects and the power of our fallen human condition remain and are not eliminated entirely until we’re glorified in heaven. The whole journey of the Christian life in our sanctification, then, is one in which we are seeking to love God more and more. If we want to love God more, we must know Him and His truth more deeply. Jonathan Edwards once said that “seeking after God is the main business of the Christian.” J.I. Packer in his book Knowing God, said that “The proper study of God’s elect is God.” Knowing God is the greatest aim we should set ourselves in life. This is the main reason why Christians should study Theology.
Theology is from the Greek “theos”, “god”, and “logia”, “word” or “idea” or “logic” – is not uniquely Christian word (meaning, other theistic faith based or religion may use it).
Christian Theology is the study if the divine revelation in the Bible. It has God as its perpetual centerpiece, God’s Word as its source, and godliness as its aim.
David Wells has crafted a notable working definition of Christian Theology:
“Theology is the sustained effort to know the character, will, and acts of the triune God as he has disclosed and interpreted these for his people in Scripture… In order that we might know him, learn to think our thoughts after him, live our lives in his world on his terms, and by thought and action project his truth into our own time and culture.”
R.C. Sproul, in his book, “What is Reformed Theology” explained that “The difference between religion and theology is ultimately the difference between God and man – hardly a small difference. It is a difference of subject matter. The subject matter of theology proper is God; the subject matter of religion is man. Theology is Theocentric (God-centered); Religion is anthropocentric (Man-centered).”
Various Major Kinds of Theology (taken from Biblical Doctrine, by John MacArthur, Richard Mayhue):
1. Biblical Theology: The organization of Scripture thematically by biblical chronology or by biblical author with respect to the progressive revelation of the Bible (properly a component of Systematic Theology).
2. Dogmatic Theology: The organization of Scripture with an emphasis on favored or selected church creeds.
3. Exegetical Theology: The methodical organization of Scripture by dealing exegetically with individual texts of the Bible (properly a component of both biblical and systematic theology).
4. Historical Theology: The historical study of doctrinal developments after the apostolic era to the present time.
5. Natural Theology: The study of what can be known about God by human reason alone through the empirical study of the natural world.
6. Pastoral/practical Theology: The organization of Scripture with an emphasis on the personal application of doctrinal truth in the lives of the church and individual Christians.
7. Systematic Theology: The organization of Scripture by a synthesis of scriptural teaching, summarized using major categories that encompass the entirety of God’s written revelation (developed from exegetical and biblical theology).
What is Systematic Theology? (taken from Systematic Theology, by Wayne Grudem)
Systematic Theology is any study that answers the question, “What does the whole Bible teach us today?” about any given topic.
This definition indicates that systematic theology involves collecting and understanding all the relevant passages in the Bible on various topics and then summarizing their teachings clearly so that we know what to believe about each topic.
“Today”: Application to Life – Systematic Theology focuses on summarizing each doctrine as it should be understood by present-day Christians. Application to Life is a necessary part of the proper pursuit of systematic theology.
Biblical Doctrine is what the whole Bible teaches us today about some particular topic. – “Doctrine” is simply the result of the process of doing systematic theology:
The Doctrine of the Word of God (Bibliology)
The Doctrine of God (God the Father – Theology Proper)
The Doctrine of Man (Anthropology)
The Doctrine of Christ (Christology)
The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
The Doctrine of the Application of Redemption (Salvation – Soteriology)
The Doctrine of the Church (Ecclesiology)
The Doctrine of the Future (Eschatology)
In his book, Everyone’s A Theologian, R.C. Sproul explained The Value of Theology with these words:
“Many people believe that theological study holds little value. They say, “I don’t need theology; I just need to know Jesus.” Yet theology is unavoidable for every Christian. It is our attempt to understand the truth God has revealed to us – something every Christian does. So it is not a question of whether we are going to engage in theology; it is a question of whether our theology is sound or unsound. It is important to study and learn because God has taken great pains to reveal himself to his people. He gave us a book, one that is not meant to sit on a shelf pressing dried flowers, but to be read, searched, digested, studied, and chiefly to be understood.”
J.I. Packer in his popular book, Knowing God answered the question, “Who needs Theology?” with these words:
“We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it…
Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”
Why Should Christians Study Systematic Theology? Scottish Pastor and theologian John Dick answered this penetrating query with seven profound responses:
1. To ascertain the character of God in its aspect towards us.
2. To contemplate the display of his attributes in his works and dispensations.
3. To discover his designs toward man in his original and his present state.
4. To know this Mighty Being, as far as he may be known, (which) is the noblest aim of the human understanding.
5. To learn our duty to him, the means of enjoying his favor, the hopes, which fallen race is restored to purity and happiness.
6. To love Him, the most worthy exercise of our affections.
7. To serve Him, the most honourable and delightful purpose to which we can devote our time and talents.
Knowing God is a fruitful endeavor. J.I. Packer on his book, Knowing God gave some indications of this pursuit: Evidence of Knowing God
1. Those who know God have a great energy for God.
2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God.
3. Those who know God show great boldness for God.
4. Those who know God have great contentment with God.
What is the “eternal life” that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
J.I. Packer in the preface of his book, Concise Theology said that
“Theology is for doxology and devotion – that is, the praise of God and the practice of godliness.”
I say Amen.