Standing On The shoulders Of The Fathers – 7
Theology is broken into two greek words, theos (God) and logos (Word). So then basically theology is the study of a “word about God” or God’s Word or God. You cannot separate the two. Many today will decry the study of doctrine or forming a belief system or knowledge about what and why one believes what they believe about God’s Word.
Claiming all you need are the red letters, or love, or the Bible is forgetting some important truths. Those same red letters, that same Bible says that because of love we should “be aware of false teachers.(Matthew 7:15, Romans 16:17-20, 1 Timothy 4:1-2)” Paul, told Timothy to study God’s Word, so that he would be a craftsmen (2 Timothy 2:15).
The writer of Hebrews challenged his readers to move beyond the, “milk of the Word. (Hebrews 5:11-6:4)” So, to say that doctrine is not necessary is to try to live this life, as though one is building a swingset with no instructions. Ask anyone who has tried such a thing, and they will point out how utterly futile such an effort is.
Yet, the Word of God says something else very powerful, it says that God has given us teachers in order that we might not be carried away with every wind of doctrine, (Ephesians 4:14, Hebrews 13:9). So, to say that we need no one to teach us God’s Word is bound to allow us to begin a slow decent into the land of heresy, off the path of solid truth that keeps us on the right road, taking us beyond the horizon.
Yet, how does one know that how one is interpreting God’s Word or how a particular teacher is interpreting God’s Word is right? One way is by looking back upon historical faith. Historical faith helps direct us toward knowing how to interpret the Bible, application and theological formation, allowing one to know not only how such beliefs one is holding to may have developed, thus helping one better postulate those beliefs.
Historical faith also reveals to us what is important about the faith and how Christ is building His church. It is these, the reason why World Prayr is bringing, “Standing On The shoulders Of The Fathers”. As, we travel through history we will be looking at what various teachers, pastors, writers have had to say through history about God’s Word.
We, pray you are encouraged and blessed by such insights, introductions and teachings.
John NewtonJohn Newton 24 July 1725 21 December 1807) was an English sailor, in the Royal Navy for a period, and later a captain of slave ships. He became ordained as an evangelical Anglican cleric, served Olney, Buckinghamshire for two decades, and also wrote hymns, known for “Amazing Grace” and “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken”.
Newton started his career at sea at a young age, and worked on slave ships in the slave trade for several years. After experiencing a period of Christian conversion Newton eventually renounced his trade and became a prominent supporter of abolitionism, living to see Britain’s abolition of the African slave trade in 1807.
Nearing the end of the American War of Independence (17751783), British pastor John Newton gathered his church for a Wednesday meeting of repentance and humility. The Americans were winning the war, the British were losing their battles, and talk of war and politics dominated the news and the conversations of the day.
The situation was no time for Christian arrogance but for humility before God, Newton told his people. Heres a little of what he said (on February 21, 1781):
We are a highly favored people, and have long enjoyed privileges which excite the admiration and envy of surrounding nations: and we are a sinful, ungrateful people; so that, when we compare the blessings and mercies we have received from the Lord, with our conduct towards him, it is to be feared we are no less concerned with the question in my text than Israel was of old [Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the LORD, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this? (Jeremiah 5:29)]. This is the point I purpose to illustrate, as suitable to the design for which we are at this time professedly assembled.
Though the occasion will require me to take some notice of our public affairs, I mean not to amuse you with what is usually called a political discourse. The Bible is my system of politics. There I read, that the Lord reigns (Psalm 97:1); that he does what he pleases in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth (Daniel 4:35); that no wisdom, understanding, counsel, or power, can prevail without his blessing (Proverbs 21:30); that as righteousness exalteth a nation, so sin is the reproach, and will even totally be the ruin of any people (Proverbs 14:34).
From these, and other maxims of a like import, I am learning to be still, and to know that he is God. My part, as a minister of the Gospel of peace, is not to inflame, but, if possible, to soothe and sweeten the spirits of my hearers; to withdraw their attention from the instrumental and apparent causes of the calamities we feel or fear, and to fix it upon sin, as the original and proper cause of every other evil. As a peaceful and a loyal subject, I profess and inculcate obedience to the laws of my country, to which I conceive myself bound by the authority of Gods command, and by gratitude for the civil and religious liberty I possess.
For the rest, political disquisitions, except immediately connected with scriptural principles, appear to me improper for the pulpit at all times, and more especially unseasonable and indecent on a day of public humiliation. I hope we are now met, not to accuse others, but to confess our sins; not to justify ourselves, but to plead for mercy.
Source: John Newton, The Works of John Newton (Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 5:140141; in the 2015 BOT retypeset edition, 3:550.