The Theologian’s Task

What is the task of a Christian theologian?  Or more generally, what is the task of understanding Christian doctrine?

Herman Bavinck answers that question in the opening chapter of his four-volume Reformed DogmaticsHe writes,

The imperative task of the dogmatician [or theologian] is to think God’s thoughts after him and to trace their unity.  His work is not finished until he has mentally absorbed this unity and set if forth in a dogmatics.  Accordingly, he does not come to God’s revelation with a ready-made system in order, as best he can, to force its content into it.  On the contrary, even in his system a theologian’s sole responsibility is to think God’s thoughts after him and to reproduce the unity that is objectively present in thoughts of God and has been recorded for the eye of faith in Scripture… (Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena, vol. 1 [Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003], 44).

He continues later to describe the synthesizing and organizing work that theology entails to help understand and assemble God’s word,

dogmatics is not a kind of biblical theology that stops at the words of Scripture.  Rather, according to Scripture itself, dogmatics has the right to rationally absorb its content and, guided by Scripture, to rationally process it and also to acknowledge as truth that which can be deduced from it by lawful inference (45).

Whether you are a theologian or not, may you seek to absorb God’s word and think God’s thoughts after Him.

Sola Deo Gloria, dss

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