Saturday, July 28, 2018

Introduction to Systematic Theology: Why Knowing God & Solid Biblical Content is Especially Important in a Pagan Culture

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Theology is applying the whole of the bible to the whole of life. For example, when we study God’s omnipotence, we will ask what does the entire bible say about it, and try to apply it.

My name is Mark Hunnemann and in 1973 I became a Christian, and it was quite a change. I immediately was introduced to JI Packer, John Stott, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, RC Sproul and other wonderful writers who had profound influence upon me…their theology and love for the Lord. Kept me from slipping back into old lifestyle.

I went to seminary and was a pastor for many years and had the honor of preaching the whole counsel of God. I am sitting because this is not church, and I am teaching—not preaching.. I invite you to fact check everything I say. I’ve written a book entitled Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes and working on a second one. I have been deeply involved in helping folks who are struggling with demonic oppression—passion of mine.

 We live a pagan culture in which mind-less experience is the key to spiritualty, but it leads to delusion and oppression. We and our children need as much biblical content as possible, and the most loving thing you can do as a parent and grandparent is to grow in your knowledge and love of God.
In a sense, every Christian is a theologian—for better or for worse—and the ‘for worse’  aspect is no small matter. The epistles and Jesus warn us that heresies are destructive attacks by wolves against God’s sheep; and wolves are not very kind to sheep. Therein lies my passion for this series. Gallop recently did a poll and it left me speechless—the amount of biblical theological ignorance amongst professing Christians is astonishingly high. Breaks my heart. And my passion is to take profound truth and make it understandable and catch on fire! So, I invite you on a journey of discovery together—to delve deeply into the meat of God’s Word. I believe there are many Christians hungering for solid meat and I want to do my humble part to help in that regard.

The bible says that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. The ideas that don’t just flit around our brains momentarily, but the ones that penetrate the heart, are the ideas that shape our lives. And ideas have legs. We are what we think. Sound theology is required for a godly life because we have to first know the truth before we can do the truth. So, no Christian can avoid theology. Some may strenuously deny it, but every Christian has a theology.  The issue is do we have a sound theology? Do we embrace true or false doctrine? You may be surprised to hear this but every wrong belief I embrace is sin due to not loving God with all of my mind.

Before giving a more concrete basis for studying theology let me address several common misconceptions or concerns—with brief replies.

1. First, does not Jesus teaching about embracing the Kingdom with child-like faith (Mark 10:15) imply a simple faith? Yes, but there is world of difference between child-like faith and child-ish faith. The latter is obstinate and refuses to bow before authority and settles for a diet of spiritual milk. The implicit trust of a child is something we never grow out of but we are to grow to into maturity—solid meat. 11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

2. Many Christians have developed an aversion to theology because of their distrust of theologians. I understand…and have experience first hand of the devastating effects of higher-critical methods of ‘scholarship’ which is just a mask for unbelief and often shoddy scholarship. Most seriously, they have vandalized God’s holy Word, and caused serious damage to people. Academia is filled with wolves who are unregenerate pagans who are intellectually arrogant. But please remember that we must not throw out the baby with the bath water; to reject theology is to commit spiritual suicide.

3. The false pietism of our day denigrates the mind. But the pattern in scripture is deep doctrine and then application. EG But we are told in Romans 12:1-2 to be transformed through the renewing of our minds. some emphasize a direct experience with the Holy Spirit, which bypasses the mind,

4. Theology breeds arguments and controversy. Yes, it does because truth implies error, and error must be confronted or we accommodate it by our silence. What kind of world do you want our grandkids to live in? Jesus’s life was a storm cloud of controversy, as was Paul's because truth matters. It is godless controversy we are to avoid, not godly controversy, which is needed. To avoid controversy is to avoid Christ. We are not to argue about non-important issues, and the THE mark of a Christian is love.

5. We have unconsciously been influenced by the relativization and subjectivism of the truth. The concept of truth has changed and this has belittled the importance of the content of truth and the intellect. One of the glories of our faith is that it is a system of coherent, rational truth. It is much more than a system of truth, but not less. We should rejoice in this in light of the content-less spirituality of pagan, New Age. One hand clapping may sound profound but it means nothing rational.  I recently did a video on the  “Cosmic Christ” and I chose this title carefully because I wanted to catch the attention of New Agers and I wanted to accent the cosmic dimension of the atonement-Christus victor. But it was mainly to show the CONTENT of the true Christ vs the myth of the pagan conception of Christ. I next want to do one entitled the Cosmic Christ and His alien, extra-terrestrial righteousness! Hehe  Actually, I am not kidding because the term ‘alien righteousness’ is a theological term for the righteousness of Christ which is extra-terrestrial—outside the earth, and reserved in heaven. See if I can work ET in the title too! His righteousness is imputed to us in justification.

Suppose someone says: why theology? All I need is to love to Jesus. First, which Jesus? (New Age, Jehovas Witness, etc.) Who is He and what did He do? What happened on the cross?  Second, ‘love’ can be defined and expressed in a thousand different ways. And Jesus Himself said: “teaching them ALL that I commanded you.”

Positive role of theology: just as we get to know a person better as we know more about them, so our knowledge of and love for God should grow as we study about His Person and work---in creation and redemption. For our soul to be inflamed with a passion for God then it first has to pass through our minds.  (CS Lewis quote)

I am at a point in life at age 62 where I wish to record the truths of God’s Word. Knowledge without devotion is cold, dead orthodoxy. But devotion without knowledge is irrational instability; one is left vulnerable to being undiscerning to the wiles of the devil…and I see people falling left and right. How can people believe in earthbound spirits? Recently a friend went back to being a witch. 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsc and teachers,d 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,e to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Avoid syncretism which is blending of non-Christian thought with bible. Solid theology helps avoid that..become discerning. Like eg of bank teller and counterfeit.

Growing in the knowledge of God is a great joy and honor. It is a delight to the soul. Takes effort and discipline, but this is a matter of life and death—even eternal life and death. And this series is designed, by God’s grace, to enable us to love Him more and be more effective in your witness to a lost and broken world. Dig in!

Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.

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