Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Overview

Revelation - Theology - Doctrine - Dogma - Religion - Relationship


Revelation >>

 


When we begin to explore life in a deeper, more philosophical or in a more "religious" sense, it is important to ensure that we are approaching our questions with an open mind and that we build a solid foundation based on fact, logic, and truth. But how are we to approach this quest and how are we to sift through all of the terms that get thrown around like "revelation" and "relationship"? How do terms like these relate to God? And what is the difference between theology, doctrine, dogma, and religion anyway? Aren't they all really just the same thing?

These are the questions we will explore here and I will attempt to lay out a clear picture of what these terms mean and how they fit together in order to lay a firm foundation for your theology with the object being to help you develop an ever closer, personal, and intimate relationship with God through Christ Jesus. Even you don't yet know Jesus, it is my hope that this will be just another step on the path to finding your peace and rest in the Savior that is calling you.

So what are the meaning of all of these terms and how do they relate to each other? If you read the theology textbooks or attend a seminary somewhere you will get much more complex definitions of these terms. Any theologian reading this will no doubt find these definitions woefully inadequate. The purpose of this site however, is to provide a simple and easy to understand framework for exploring your faith in a deeper and more meaningful way. The short version that we will work to expand on is this:
  • Revelation is what God reveals to us either through the world in general, His written word, or our personal experience;
  • Theology is our study and attempt to understand, categorize, and organize what God has revealed;
  • Doctrine describes our formalized teachings of specific areas of our theology; 
  • Dogma describes the specific rules that we create out of our doctrine;
  • Religion is our attempt to individually and corporately work out our theology, doctrine, and dogma in the real world. 

All of these are worthless if they are not founded on, and in every way permeated by, a full and intimate personal relationship with God. At the same time, any personal relationship with some "higher power" is highly suspect if it is not firmly grounded in tested revelation, strong theology, good doctrinal teaching, and solid dogmatic boundaries. In order to be trustworthy our faith must be worked out in the real world showing tangible results both in us individually and in how we interact with others and with the world around us.

Does this sound complicated? It really isn't as complicated as many theologians usually end up making it. Let's go through it step by step and I think you'll see it is actually pretty simple.

  

It is entirely possible to completely agree with a man's doctrine yet disagree with aspects of his dogma.










Religion is simply man working out what he thinks God has revealed to him by acting out his theology and his doctrine.




This eighty-year old collection of authoritative essays on the fundamentals of the faith is ready for a new century---it's updated by Charles L. Feinberg and refreshed with biographical sketches by Warren Wiersbe. The sixty-five articles (by the likes of James Orr, Arno Gaebelein, Charles Erdman, and many others) cover Christianity's central teachings---the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the second coming, the bodily resurrection, salvation by grace, and much more. Use them as an introduction to Christian doctrine, or as a starting-point for apologetics. 652 pages, paper from Kregel.



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