doxology and duty

Today we hear much discussion around the topic of theology.  Whether it’s in our churches, Christian circles, or somewhere else, many different scholarly words, phrases, and categories often accompany theology.  We talk about systematic theology, biblical theology, historical theology, and so on, and so forth…  This is all very well and good, because theology is needed and theology is necessary.  However, all of the jargon without answering questions of “why” and “how” will always leave Christians wanting real, relevant answers.  They’ll be left with…well… just words, nothing more, no conviction, except perhaps a conviction that the church’s intellectual answers are completely irrelevant to the “real” world. So, why do theology?  What does it matter?  Let me point to two main reasons.  First, we must theologize because theology leads to doxology, and second, because theology leads to duty. 

Doxology and duty…

Theology breeds and leads to both.

Theology leads to doxology.  In other words, when we do theology right, it should result in our praise and worship of God (Rom. 11:36-12:1, 1 Cor. 10:31).  This is important because God not only deserves worship, but He also rightfully demands worship (Ex. 20:1-6, Is. 48:11).  Both revelation and redemption should cause us to joyfully worship God without shame.   After all, God alone is worthy of worship, not us (Deut. 6:4-5, Rev. 22:8-9).

However, theology should never come with just doxology, but also duty, for if theology does not also lead to duty, then theology as a whole has yet to be accomplished.  You will end up doing nothing more than intellectual gymnastics or something of the sort.  The point is, theology and the truth of God’s word is never meant to be left running laps in your head.  This truth must make its way to the heart.  Theology is practical, theology is functional, theology is purposeful, and theology is useful.  Theology matters.  When we do theology in a biblical and God glorifying way, it will make a difference in how we live every day of our lives.  When there is a wedge driven between theology and life, it is no longer theology, but instead a mental workout with no real benefit.


Before we look at the question of “how” this happens, I want to address a possible confusion.  When I speak of theology, I am referring to theology that is biblically accurate, God glorifying, built upon the understanding that the Bible is the authoritative word of God, and therefore our only foundation for doing theology.  I bring this up because in a very real sense, we are all theologians even if we don’t know it.  The question then becomes whether you are a good or bad theologian.  Even an atheist is doing theology in one sense; they just stop after their answer of the existence of God.  With that said, I will be speaking of theology that brings glory to our Creator and has the authoritative Bible as its foundation.

Finally, how?  How does this transition from head to heart happen?  A very lengthy answer could be given, and lengthy answers have been given.  I’m in the midst of reading a 640-page book by John Frame on how exactly this happens. However, I will try and keep my answer concise for now so this first post doesn’t put you to sleep.

To cut to the chase, the answer is thoroughly Trinitarian and completely saturated with the gospel.  Or maybe more simply put, the answer is the gospel, which is Trinitarian.  God speaks to us through his Word (2 Tim. 3:16), the Holy Spirit illuminates the Word so we properly understand (1 Cor. 2:14), and finally the Word is centered on Jesus Christ and his atoning work on the cross (Luke 24:13-35).  Therefore, the duty that will be made evident because of theology must be understood in terms of the Triune God we serve.  God has purchased for himself a people at the cost of his perfect Son’s blood.  Not only has He called out a people for himself, but He has also has spoken to those people and indwells them by the Holy Spirit.  And when God speaks, it demands a response.  To quote John Frame, “The speech of an absolute authority creates absolute obligation.”  The word of God knows no neutrality when it confronts us.  We cannot claim to have no response because that is in fact is a response… a response of disobedience.  And what is the proper response?  Doxology and Duty, theology breeds both.

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