Christian Apologetics Alliance

Christian Apologetics Alliance
Member: Christian Apologetics Alliance

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The difference between Theology and Faith

In the quest to understand the perspectives put forth in the continuing theological discussion, it becomes a continuous process to understand the various views and positions taken by the many schools of thought that embrace the faith surrounding the resurrection of the historic Jesus of Nazareth.

The work is by no means tedious, and requires a corollary diligence to understand the principles of philosophy, logic and historicity, among others, to keep pace with the thoughts of the theologians through the years and finally take a position to believe in, most specially because what we believe will have a very important part in the way that we conduct the way we live.

The high concepts, the language and the level of discussion can be very enlightening, and at times, intimidating, most of all if there was no previous diligence that was exercised in studying the disciplines to be able to engage in these enterprises.

However, in light of an encounter with what may very well be considered as a spiritual onslaught from the other side, a careful reconsideration of these views would be very valuable in order to take a closer look at what seems to be positions that can't quite be cast in stone.

Take for instance, the discussion involving the matter of a verse in Jeremiah which quite a lot of believers have drawn strength from: Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.'

Some theological positions argue that this cannot be construed as a message meant for anyone else, except for the Jews in exile in Babylon, as this was a message relayed to them through Jeremiah, in the midst of their exile, and therefore cannot be used as a message for anyone else, regardless of the sentiment felt while they read the verse.

I sometimes wonder whether these theologians ever venture beyond the sterile environs of their desks in their first world homes and having to contend with more real difficulties that the majority of the lesser fortunate believers in the less developed portions of the globe have to deal with on a day to day basis, without the kind of sustenance or support that they enjoy (at an exchange rate skewed in their favor at that!) in order to make such decided pronouncements that cannot be called into question, as what separates them from the rest of us are their Masters or Doctorate degrees in Divinity or Theology.

I recall that that was the same situation that Jesus had found himself in, when dealing with the theological issues of His day, while contending with the PhD's in Divinity of His time: the Pharisees and the Saducees.

Sometimes, what can make a huge difference in a less cloistered environment is a verse from the scriptures just like that, and to take it away, simply because it doesn't make formal theological sense can be mean the difference between hope and desperation for those who have considerably much less to hold on to.

After all, Hebrews 4:12 does describe the Word of God as "living and active" after all. Perhaps these formally trained theologians would do well to consider this remote possibility, after all, the words DO inspire and outline a character of the merciful, Everlasting God who Jesus had portrayed as wanting to be Our Father.

In troubling circumstances, one cannot be choosy with what one can use or read to draw hope from.

In my own experience, I have found that the verse that had come true for me not just once, but twice, was the verse outlined in Isaiah 65:2. Before they even call out, I will respond; while they are still speaking, I will hear.

In the book "The Kingdom Triangle", JP Moreland starts the first chapter with the story of Dr. Helen Roseveare ( the story can be found in this link: , who recounts the way that this came true in a very real experience that she had as a missionary in Africa.

Many a skeptic has gone to great lengths to discredit this story as nothing but a rumor or fable but even has acknowledged it's veracity.

As a young believer (and some times at present) I had faced many serious financial challenges. Having put my new found faith in Jesus some twenty six or so years ago, I found myself with just enough money for bus fare one day, to be able to go home and as it was just a few days away from payday, I was struggling with how to get by in the days ahead.

Fortunately my wonderful mother was going my way that day and had offered to let me hitch a ride going to the Makati area in Metro Manila that morning, where I was working at that time. As we were making our way through the metropolis, she told me that she would have to stop by a common friend's office to make a design modification for a requirement for the food company she was working for. Since the person she was meeting was a good friend, I agreed to stop by as well.

We sat down, and chatted for a while and she did her business and we were done in less than thirty minutes. As we arose to leave, my friend asked me if I had come to pick up my check. I was clearly taken aback, as it was obvious I wasn't expecting anything. He told me to go up to accounting and pick up the check that he had just signed. As it turned out, I had done a speculative project for him and was paid a token fee that I didn't know I was going to get.

Happily, my mother allowed me to do so and we went to the bank together to have it encashed and I had a few hundred pesos at that time to tide me over till payday.

Up to today, that remains a very significant high point in my walk with the Lord God most specially as I try to remember how He prepares these things in advance to provide for all of us.

This type of experience manifested itself yet again, just a few days ago, after our recent spirtual onslaught, challenging every fiber of our being to remain true to the qualities of the Spirit's fruit in the face of severe testing.

Having resolved that difficulty and still reeling from the repercussions, our family faces yet another financial challenge of answering for our own needs as we had to give up what we had to answer for the needs of another, who needed the financial support immediately and had nowhere else to go to for that assistance.

Throughout that whole time, there was no business coming in, no payments and just prospects for some business to be done being discussed, and we had no way of being able to meet obligations that would present themselves in a matter of days.

Just a day ago, I had the opportunity to speak with a client that had previously engaged me for some services, and I inquired if there was a chance that I would be paid anytime soon. She said that she would check and get back to me.

Later that night, in an email, she informed me that the check had been issued and the amount had been deposited into my bank account at the beginning of the month. And true enough, it was there, when I checked online. And all this time, I did not know about it. It was as if the Lord God withheld it while we were helping this person who was relentlessly asking us for financial assistance while behaving in such an ungrateful and inconsiderate manner, despite our taking her in, feeding her and housing her and helping her with a problem that we had nothing to do with in the first place.

It may be true that we have yet to find the rest of the resources that we need to make good on our remaining obligations. But the strength of heart that I have now, drawing on these experiences show that the Lord God prepares everything well in advance - over and beyond what we hope or expect.

Small wonder that the Hebrew equivalent for the word used as "faith" in the New Testament is "trust". Substituting the words make a whole world of difference in understanding the scriptures as you read them all over again.

It is these kinds of experiences that I would hope these theologians in their ivory towers would come down and see for themselves - to "taste and see, that the Lord is good", for no amount of doctrinal discourse can ever convince me otherwise of the validity of the truth that the God who stands outside time is interested in our individual affairs, and intervenes in a manner that we cannot ever come to understand or comprehend.

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