the·ol·o·gy (thē-ŏl'ə-jē) n.
The study of the nature of God
dox·ol·o·gy (dŏk-sŏl'ə-jē) n.
An expression of praise to God
Theology should always lead to doxology. And doxology should always be informed by good theology. Theology that doesn't lead to doxology is dead orthodoxy. Doxology that doesn't spring from good theology is idolatry. Both extremes dishonor God. The greatest commandment in the law as laid out by the Lord Jesus, is this:
"Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' " (Mark 12:29-30)
Our sinful tendency is to either attempt to bypass the mind (as if that were possible) in our worship of God, or to be so intellectual in our approach to the things of God that we bypass the affections. The former results in us fashioning and worshipping a god who conforms to our own sinful notions of who we think God should be. The latter results in a pharisee-like coldness that finds more delight in winning an argument than joy in the God who makes the argument meaningful. The former makes one a ripe candidate for victimization by false teachers and cult leaders. The latter makes one a ripe candidate for teaching truths that have not been of saving benefit to them. Both extremes lead down the broad road to destruction.
God, in His grace, has given us gifts that address both tendencies- The Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, and prayer. Or, I should say, the Holy Spirit as He illuminates Scripture and prompts prayer. Those who fall in the "forget about theology- just give me Jesus" camp tend to emphasize prayer more than diligently studying the Scriptures. Those who fall in the "dotting every theological 'i' and crossing every theological 't'" camp tend to struggle with prayerlessness even as they dive into the deep end of the text. Those who fall into the first camp will find balance as they repent of their idolatry and prayerfully do the dificult work of studying Scripture in context, as well as systematically. Those in the second camp will find balance as they repent of their arrogance and cultivate a humble, dependent, broken spirit that can only come on your knees before the majesty of God. Neither can occur apart from the empowering of the Holy Spirit. When this happens, Jude 1:20-21 will be fulfilled in our lives:
"But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life."
May the Lord make it so in our lives, for the sake of His glory.
grace and peace,