Saturday, September 15, 2007

Theology and Doxology

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,
shai

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

As someone who was born, raised, and continues to swim in the second camp (how's that for mixed metaphors!), I found this post really helpful. Thanks.

eve said...

wow.

unfortunately, i fall into the "latter" camp and God has been making it clear as of late through His humbling process.

thanks for this blog. it's opened my eyes even wider at a critical juncture in my life.

i find myslf struggling to implement what the Holy Spirit in me wants in terms of intimacy. and, as you said, "neither can be done without the Holy Spirit."

i hope i don't tire of the process of sanctification when, in fact, i should be rejoicing that God is even active in it.

'ppreciate the blog.

KriTiKul said...

Thanks for the words of enlightenment. In these past few months, I've seen a greater need to heighten my doxology. I appreciate your biblical approach when explaining this concept. Sometimes people are too quick to deem your words (that's a figurative and literal you) as biblical without asking what your scriptural foundation is, or searching the scriptures for themselves...myself included. This was much needed.

andrew travis pantazi said...

This particular blog is extremely helpful as I am starting a theology class and I have been prayerfully seeking God so that I do not become all intellect with no love. I have struggled with this pharisee-like behavior and I am praying that God will humble me and remind me of my lack of worth and His unimaginable worth. This was a great reminder at a perfect time in my life. Thanks,
God bless,
sola Scriptura,
andrew travis pantazi

holy rida said...

well stated...

we are learning that relationship is the key to both of those ologies...

Michael said...

Hi Shai, I ran across your blog from the Mars Hill Doxologist...I'm a fellow music minister who wholeheartedly agrees with your post here. Thanks for your words.

It's interesting to me that the word "orthodoxy" really means "right praise", when we generally use to mean "right theology". But as you stated so well, they are really intertwined. One can't have right praise without right theology, and vice versa.

Thanks again for the thoughts! I'm going to read more...

Expo said...

I'm getting rocked by your blogs, shai. Thanks for these, famo!

I think many of us in our particular camp have struggled with or are struggling with that pharisee-like arrogance. It's so bad at times that we don't even see it as being arrogant at all. The Lord has definitely been working on me in this area as of late.

The work of mortification is one that is often neglected, but oh so necessary. Thanks again, bro