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Who I Am

I’m a Millennial with a degree in Studio Art, who has since been called by God into ministry, and I’m on a continual journey of growing closer to God. I’ve been serving God’s Kingdom in youth ministry since 2014. In 2022 I began my seminary degree, and have since been drawn to theology like a moth to a flame. This blog is a space that I have created to think out loud and process as I continue to learn and grow.

Why Theology?

Why does theology matter? Isn't it enough for me to just feel close to God when I'm at church and I have a worship experience?

This is a question that is asked with bewildering frequency in the American Church today. Sound theology and solid biblical doctrine have taken a back seat to experiential worship and slick sermons designed to make you feel things. It's exciting and appealing and it's tempting to wonder, is theology really such a big deal? Can't I just be satisfied with the vague feelings of goodness and closeness with God I get from emotional experiences?

This is a good question. Theology is complicated and can get tiresome, especially when one considers the minds of those who have gone before us. If great thinkers like Martin Luther and John Calvin couldn't agree on foundational doctrines, surly it's not worth my effort to apply my energy towards any given issue. Isn't it more attractive to just feel God at work in my life and be content in my ignorance?

Yes and no. The name of this blog, Theology Sketchbook, is derived from an illustration C.S. Lewis uses in his work Mere Christianity, where he brilliantly illustrates the necessity of theology in knowing God as he really is. He uses the ocean as an example. One can be perfectly content to stand at the shore and gaze off across the vast expanse of ocean and feel a sense of awe at its grandeur. It is beautiful and mesmerising, and the water you feel on your skin and the sunset you see reflected on its surface is undeniably real. But if one really wishes to get past simply appreciating the beauty of the ocean to actually navigating it effectively, one must study and know how to use a map. The map will show you the features of the ocean as they really are. The lines of ink on the map may not seem as real or exciting as the great ocean beside which you are studying it, but in a very real sense, the map of the ocean on the paper is a more accurate and real depiction of the ocean than you can see from your perspective.

So it is with theology. It may seem dry and pointless, but it nevertheless matters. Emotional experiences and feeling God at work are an essential part of walking with Christ. It is true that walking with Christ requires more than head knowledge. But if one wishes to seriously get to know God, one must look to what he has revealed about himself to humankind through is Scripture. What does God want us to know about him? By learning theology, we can start to map out who and how God really is. This blog is devoted to the notion of sketching out a better, clearer, more accurate picture of God which can compliment and enhance the feelings of awe that we feel when we experience God's majesty.

View of Scripture

It seems appropriate here to clearly lay out my view of Scripture, as this will be helpful in understanding how I approach theology. It is my conviction that Scripture is the final authority for every aspect of life and that it is the absolute, inspired, inerrant Word of God. I believe in a straightforward reading of Scripture, wherein the text is allowed to interpret itself. What the text presents as history, I believe is history. What the text presents as poetry, I believe is poetry. To call my reading of Scripture purely "literal" oversimplifies my approach. I believe the text should be read with commons sense. When the author employs metaphors or other literary devices, it should be read as such. That said, when Scripture describes an actual historical event that falls outside of the realm of what naturalistic science can corroborate, I do not believe the authors of Scripture were mistaken in what they describe. When John claims that Jesus walked on water, I believe that he did. When he claims that he raised Lazarus from being literally dead, I believe it. To assume that the biblical authors were mistaken or that they were too ignorant to understand what was really going on seems arrogant and misled. One can accept or reject the claims made, but to attempt to compromise by making excuses for the biblical authors, to my mind, is untenable.

One's view of Scripture is essential to living a faithful Christian life for practical reasons alone. But it is my conviction that one's view of Scripture inescapably shapes one's theology. Theology, by definition, should be based on what God has revealed about himself to humankind. If theology is based primarily on current trends in sociology (with Scripture taking a back seat to the culture), my belief is that it ceases to be theology at all. Fields like sociology, psychology, and the like are useful in understanding the human experience, but to base ideas about God primarily on anything other than God's Word will result in skewed and problematic conclusions.

For this reason, my approach to theology is to look first and foremost to Scripture, drawing secondarily from other fields of study. All truth is God's truth, but in my mind, if there is an apparent contradiction between two truth claims, my trust goes more readily to Scripture's clear teaching than the current popular trends.

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