Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Theology takes precedence

Last night we had our monthly fellowship it was an enjoyable time and the discussions were fantastic. At one point we started discussing the core nature of what is most important... Theology or Relationships. In this post modern world with many people talking about relationships the world would say relationships are the most important. Why? Well I think it is because through relationships there is a point of self-edification that can be garnished. If we use relationships in Evangelism then the credit that is due to God then can be misplaced on the person "creating" that relationship. I also think that relational only Evangelism is inherently deceitful. Now don't get me wrong there is nothing that should hinder us from having relationships and using them to further the spreading of God's fragrance. Aaron commented that "Relationships should be subordinate to Theology". I would agree that our Theology is the first and primary focal point and from there the speaking of the Gospel, and our motives and our hearts are exposed. Theology has to be primary, Sola Scriptura, Scripture must take PRECEDENCE over everything else we feel, we think, or even our relationships. That is our foundation on which we rest our hope and our faith. Our relationships should stem from a right understanding of who God is and what God expects. If we have a right relationship with God, we should then desire relationships with others, but never to the exclusivity that the relationship should replace the sharing of the Gospel or Scripture.


Jason Epps said...

I can definitley understand the importance of theology over and above relationships - if the two are pitted against each other. However, I think one is an apple and one is an orange and that it might be a bit better to see the two as "units of seperate categories" complementing each other rather than being opposed to each other. I understand that what is commonly referred to as the "Emergent Church" movement has completely elevated relationships above theology - and has even downplayed the importance of theology. I am against this for sure. However, a circular and symbiotic relationship between the two. Theology is born out of relationships. Theology, which is knowing God and not necessarily an academic discipline only, is made possible by a relationship with God; Jesus said that such a knowledge of God was informed by our relationships with others (i.e. love God, and love others - all the Law and Prophets are summed up in these two commandments).

So at the end of the day, both are important. The "Emerging Church" movement has erred in the sense that it has sacrificed theology for what it calls "genuine relationships." I would submit that these people do not have genuine relationships because a genuine relationship that is not informed by sound doctrine and theology is not possible. Hence, they shoot themselves in the foot. On the other hand, we should not do the same by elevating "theology" over and above relationships which God has ordained as the evidence of a good and genuine theology. All things in moderation.


Andy said...

I think you are right they orginally should be an orange and an apple, yet our relativistic world has blurred them and put them in the same category. As a response to that we must delinate between the two. Relationships have to be subordinate to Theology. If it is not then where do we get our standard for relationships? I believe you sum it up well when you said "is made possible by a relationship with God; Jesus said that such a knowledge of God was informed by our relationships with others (i.e. love God, and love others - all the Law and Prophets are summed up in these two commandments)." This is exactly the point your Theology determines how you perceive and act in relationships so it is therefore subordinate to your Theology. More worldly is that a World View will dictate the type and content of relationships. Again relationship is a primary purpose subordinate under our Theology. The Emergent Church is just a prime example of that. We see that with all types of Churches augmenting Theology for the purpose of relationships. If our relationships are so substaintial then it is our command to preface all that we do under the requirement of Scripture. If relationships are equal or more important then Scripture is de-categorized into a non inspired work. Since we believe it is inspired and for that matter inerrant, and our relationships are not it, even though relationships are encouraged by our Creator, scripture must take priority over anything that we can garnish. I would go so far as to say our relationships are a proof to our Theology. Love one another.

Jason Epps said...

I would still submit that this statement...

"Relationships have to be subordinate to Theology"

is misleading. It is no more appropriate to say this that it is to say that "playing the trumpet has to be subordinate to music theory." One is the practical application of another - they go together and it's a misnomer to compare the two as if they were in some sort of competetion. Without theology, you have no Godly relationships. Without Godly relationships, you have no theology. The two cannot be separated. To do so would only pave the way for the justification of ministries that, under the guise of "theology," have little interest in or committment to the kind of relationships that are mandated by the theology they claim to hold. I know many street preachers who have "great theology," but few friends and little committment to the local church. They always tell me the same thing - theology is more important than relationships. The Emergents are completely the opposite. The truth is is that one is not subordinate to the other - they are in two different categories and therefore cannot be compared on the same scale - just like apples and oranges.

I'll offer you the last word on the subject.