Theo-logy: Let us press on to know and love the Lord

When you put the emphasis on the wrong syllable, theology turns from the sanctifying, edifying, doxological study of the Trinitarian God to the self-absorbed, glory-seeking, academic discipline of God-study.  For in the compound word, theos and logos supply two possible centers of focusAttention to the former is good and right because it highlights and exalts God in all his manifold perfections; fixation on the latter, though, runs the risk of replacing the proper object of veneration with man’s ability to be scholastic, creative, and clever.   In this, the study of God becomes idolatry with biblical language. Only the first kind of study abides in Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure lovely, and admirable, think about such things.” The second kind of theology corresponds to the spirit of this age, even if its gets the creedal formulations right, because its affections are heterodox.

In short, theology that does not have white-hot worship as its end, covenantal relationship as its context, and love as its fuel will fail in the end.   Pastors, theologians, and seminarians have the occcupational hazard of studying God cold, dry, and hard.  Such cannot be the way to pursue a knowledge of God.  For knowledge must be accompanied by love (1 Cor. 8:1), or with increased knowledge will come greater judgment.  

Consider the words of John Piper on knowing God in the book of Hosea, as he writes on the relationship between sexual purity and knowledge of God:

I think it is virtually impossible to read this (Hos. 2:14-16, 19-20) and then honestly say that knowing God, as God intends to be known by his people in the new covenant, simply means mental awareness or understanding or acquaintance with God.  Not in a million years is that what “knowing God” means hereThis is the knowing of a lover, not a scholar.  A scholar can be a lover.  But a scholar–or a pastor–doesn’t know God until he is a lover.  You can know about God by research; but until the researcher is ravished by what he sees, he doesn’t know God for who he really is.  And that is one great reason why many pastors can become so impure.  They don’t know God–the true, massive, glorious, gracious biblical God.  The humble intimacy and brokenhearted ecstasy–giving fire to the facts–is not there (John Piper, “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ” in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by Justin Taylor and John Piper [2005], 32).

Father in heaven, make us lovers, not just scholars.  Give fire to the facts.  Help all those who study your Word, become more deeply in love and loving.  Keep your pastors pure by giving them the gift of yourself.  And may we who pursue academic studies of You never settle for erudite answers only; may we always press on to know you–inquisitively, innocently, intensely, and intimately (Hosea 6:3).

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