Systematic Theology 3: Theology Proper

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 20, 2023 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Theology Proper focuses on the study of God the Father. One of the things that theologians must be careful about is that when we study God, we are not studying a concept or an idea but a person. God is not a research specimen that fits under our microscope to manage and control. There are two ways we can study God. We can know things about Him, such as knowing about a sports superstar. We can learn all his stats, the games he’s played, how he won championships, etc. We can do the same with God. We can learn and study His attributes and His characteristics. However, unless you know that superstar personally, you only know about him rather than knowing him. Likewise, many people know a lot about God, but few actually know Him.

I have written many blog posts about the attributes of God and the names of God, and I even have a book on the attributes, actions, and character of God in the Psalms available from Worldview Warriors Publishing called The God of the Psalms. I have also written about God as Trinity. The bulk of the teachings on “theology proper” is regarding the attributes of God, so I am not going to spend a lot of time on that here. Instead, I will showcase how our beliefs and our observations that we attribute to God are actually in agreement to these attributes, while also addressing the origins debate.

There are two major competing origins views. One comes from the Bible, that God created everything in six days and roughly only 6000 years have passed since its completion. The other has many different flavors but all involve gradual processes over the span of millions of years, whether some “god” is part of the process or not. The young earth creationists and old earth creationists all proclaim that God created, but we differ in our beliefs of how He created. The question we have to ask is this: Does the model we believe and teach fit with the character of God the Father as revealed in Scripture?

This is a question few people are asking. Some are asking it because some do bring it up. If God created a world in which millions of years of animal death was the norm prior to sin (and that is without mentioning all the human remains and fossils that they say predate any image of Adam), does that reflect God’s character of never making anything with error or flaw? Likewise, if God truly is immutable and He never changes, then therefore His scientific laws should never change, therefore the earth is millions of years old, correct? Those are the two arguments regarding origins and the character of God.

I find the latter to be a categorical error because it compares the creation of God to be akin to the character of God. Yet we know from the Bible that the “laws of nature” are not unchangeable and absolute fact. How do we know that? Because the Bible has miracles, and when the end times comes, God is going to end everything. So, I find that attributing the laws of nature to being immutable is actually an unintentional form of deifying nature. And God is a jealous God; He will not tolerate competition for His glory.

That said, if animals were dying and life was corrupt and broken prior to sin, then that is saying that God is not only inept at creating things, making them flawed, but it also lessens God’s justice upon sin. Why? Because if death was already happening prior to sin, then God threatening death as judgment upon sin has no real weight. If Adam and Eve and the animals were going to die anyway, all that eating the fruit of the Tree did was speed it up. It didn’t change anything.

Lastly on this point, the art is a reflection of the artist. If the creation is corrupt, the creator is corrupt. And the teachings of life over the span of millions of years is not original to the last 200 years. The Gnostics taught it 2000 years ago, citing a corrupt creator, the Demiurge, who created the universe out of the corrupted essence of the “True God” as we see it today. I truly believe that if the teachings of millions of years were carried to their logical conclusion, the resulting models would be all but identical to the Gnostics. What we believe about origins reflects what believe about the Creator. Likewise, how we view the Creator will determine how we view the creation. We need to at least be consistent with our position. When we try to mix and match things because a lot of mainstream people believe something other than what the Bible says, it shows we really only believe what the audience in front of us believes. We as Christians are commanded to not let the fear of man dictate what we do or think.

God the Father is not just some concept out there either. He knows every thought we have about Him and how we treat Him, whether we want to recognize it or not. Every one of us do not, cannot, and will not ever be able to treat God with the honor and respect He deserves. Yet He chooses to love us in our finite, broken, and rebellious state. But He doesn’t ask for much from us: just to believe Him and obey Him. That takes trust – trust He is more than willing to build with us if we let Him. Throughout the Bible, God showcases His character in Israel’s history so that we all know that He is good and trustworthy. Yet we also learn in His dealings that He does not mess around regarding sin. This is why we can’t mess around with the Flood account.

This past November, I taught a session on the theology of the Flood during a Creation Conference I helped host. All I did was showcase the Biblical account of the pre-Flood world, the Flood account, and the post-Flood world according to Scripture and the theological lessons we learn from it. My audience said it was very helpful for them to see the issues involved and that it’s not small matter. The only point from that talk I’ll point out here is that the Flood had to be global in its extent just on the point of the message of the Gospel alone. In the non-global flood models, there would always be an escape for mankind outside the Ark. And that is a severe problem because the Ark has always been understood as a type of Christ, the one means of salvation. Every New Testament author who speaks of this event said only Noah and his family escaped via the Ark. No one else. It is a strike against God the Father to teach a non-global flood because it teaches that God’s judgment is not universal, comprehensive, and complete. Yet if we teach what the Bible does say about the Flood correctly, we’ll get God’s character of righteous judgment and mercy and grace correct as well.

Next week, we’ll examine Christology: the study of Jesus Christ.

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Anonymous said...

Charlie, this was excellent. Perhaps your best yet on the subject. I really liked the embedded links.