True Theological Method is Important. Both the content and method of theology are important. True theology must be based on the Bible alone. And that is the basic principle of theological method. True theology presupposes the total truth of the Bible. Theology is received by revelation of God, not conceived by the mind of Man Col. God is the subject, not the object, of theology. That is, He Himself teaches us about Himself. Thus there are both similarities and differences between theological and natural science.
Another important principle is seeing how the NT uses the OT. The Bible itself uses logic, but logic itself must be subject to the Word of God, else it becomes mere philosophy. These may be stated in only 2 or 3 words, or longer sentences. Some are given only once; others, many times.
They are universal and absolute, undeniable and irrefutable I Tim. They are plainly stated, yet infinitely profound. They are like axioms, maxims and formulas. By comparing spiritual things with other spiritual things I Cor. The Trinity is not stated in any one verse of the Bible, but is the implicit teaching of Scripture, seen when we combine verses such as Deut. The NT sometimes draws on underlying principles of certain OT verses and develops a new doctrine of practice e.
Thus, principles of theology are important. But we must be careful to observe the limits of this theological method, and stay close to Scripture and avoid speculation. We use it in English to refer to the right mainstream as opposed to the unusual fringe such as orthodox medicine vs. The Greek Orthodox Church once held to Biblical orthodoxy, but no more. The test of Christian orthodoxy is not antiquity, but Scripture.
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That doctrine alone is orthodox which is Biblical. They are the basics, the ABC doctrines. Dogmatic theology is concerned with the essential truths of Christianity.
Christian dogma is not defined by a church as Romanism claims for itself , but by the Bible alone. One must believe these essential truths to be a real Christian. It is impossible for someone who rejects, substitutes or adds to these essential truths to be a true Christian. The Gospel is the Main Message of the Bible. Among the essential doctrines is the Gospel.
It is a divine record of facts to be believed, not a command that is Law. Specifically, I Cor. There is only one true Gospel, but many false Gospels Gal.
Basic Christian Doctrine
The OT preached the same Gospel in advance by prophecy Gal. The true Gospel calls for only one response for salvation: faith and repentance Mark , Acts To add good works or baptism to this is to preach a false Gospel. To preach the Gospel is simply to present the basic truths about Jesus Christ. Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism are Two Kinds of Orthodoxy.
Evangelicalism accepts the truth of the evangel Gospel. But it does not always defend it strongly. It emphasizes peace and unity over truth. Fundamentalism is the term given to militant Evangelicalism. This is that kind of orthodoxy which fights to defend the essentials by exposing false kinds of Christianity. A key verse is Psa.
It refers to those basic doctrines which are to be believed.
Saving faith has a content, known as The Faith. Jude 3 calls upon us not only to believe it but to earnestly defend it. Any interpretation that contradicts the basic Gospel is automatically a wrong interpretation. Orthodoxy is true doctrine. Heterodoxy is false doctrine.
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In practice, it produces wrong schisms. In general, all error is wrong and heretical. But in a more precise sense, heresy means the rejection of a fundamental truth. One can still be saved if he is in error on a secondary truth but still believes the essential truths.
But rejection of any or all of the basics is heresy and theological poison. Scripture repeatedly warns against promoters of heresy as false prophets Matt. God pronounces a curse on those who preach a false Gospel Gal. Heresy is no small thing. It attacks the very essentials of the faith. Those who believe heresy, do not believe in the fundamentals, and are not true Christians. It primarily refers to pseudo-Christianity, not non-Christianity. This is not the same as backsliding. True Christians backslide; but they do not lose their salvation. Apostasy occurs when someone who once professed the truth of the Faith now rejects it.
This is what Heb. Judas is a good example. Apostasy is spiritual and theological treason. There are degrees of apostasy. One may reject only one essential doctrine but still profess the others, such as when someone goes from Evangelicalism to Roman Catholicism or Mormonism or other brands of pseudo-Christianity.
Full-blown apostasy is when someone who once professed all the basic truths now rejects all of them, such as when one becomes an atheist. A creed, then, is a short summary of the Faith, or orthodox fundamentals. Some passages in the NT hint at the idea I Tim. The Nicene Creed early 4th century amplified it a bit in order to emphasize the deity of Christ. A third and longer early creed is the Athanasian Creed, based on the teachings of Athanasius in the 4th century.
It mainly deals with the Trinity. A Christian ought to be able to summarize his own creed.
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Some concentrate on specific truths which were debated at that time. Some are more theological, others more practical or ecclesiastical. If a creed is concerned with the primary doctrines of the Faith, a confession of faith expands it to include the secondary and other doctrines. Most churches have a confession of faith.
Many contain Scripture proofs.
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Catechisms were written mainly to instruct children and new converts. They are very useful for memorizing. Creeds, confessions and catechisms are useful tools to study the Faith. But they must be tested by the Bible, for Scripture alone gives us true orthodoxy.