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If there is anything we want to get right it’s theology, and here Graham Cole seeks to set us on a path on which we can do theology faithfully. Here’s his brief summary of his goal:
This brief work especially explores how such a move from Scripture to doctrine is made. But why does doctrine matter? The importance of doctrine lies in that it answers three normative questions vital to us all: (1) What ought we to believe (orthodoxy, right opinion)? This is the truth question. (2) What ought we to value (orthokardia, right-heartedness)? This is the spirituality question. (3) How ought we to live (orthopraxy, right practice of life)? This is the existential or practical question. Put another way, the head (orthodoxy), the heart (orthokardia), and the hands (orthopraxy) all count as concerns of theology. For example, what ought we to believe about the identity of Jesus? Does our answer matter? How are we to live in the light of Jesus’s identity? If you believed, as many do, that Jesus was merely human, then worshiping him would be idolatry. But if Jesus is a member of the holy Trinity, then worship is entirely fitting
To answer thoroughly the above questions, five key elements are involved. In this work, a chapter is devoted to each. Chapter 1 explores the foundation of theology in the self-witness of God in Scripture. This element is “The Word of Revelation.” However, God has been providentially at work in the history of theological debate and discussion. As German theologian Gerhard Ebeling says, Scripture construed as the word of God has been central to that conversation. He argues that the history of the church is the history of the exposition of the Bible in the church. Knowledge of that conversation is another important element in doing theology, as chapter 2, “The Witness of Christian Thought and Practice,” seeks to show. The third chapter recognizes that we do theology in a context. We live outside of Eden in the new normal, or abnormal. There is brokenness about us and in us. This element is “The World of Human Brokenness.” Bringing these elements together requires wisdom from God. Chapter 4 investigates the role of wisdom in doing theology. This element is “The Work of Wisdom.”11 Finally, chapter 5 tackles the question of how the various the elements are to be put together. It summarizes the discussion and affirms the doxological dimension in doing theology. This element can be summed up as “The Way of Worship.” That is to say, our doing theology ought to be an offering to God. (p. 15-16).
An excellent, concise introduction to theological work.
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FAITHFUL THEOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION, by Graham A. Cole