Theology as Synthesis
What is theology? Christians have provided many excellent answers to this question. There’s no one right answer. God’s truth vastly exceeds a person’s ability to capture and communicate it. Rather, there are a plethora of great answers. One answer I’ve been taught is this: theology is the synthesis of divine revelation. Let’s break this down.
God reveals himself in several different ways: in Christ, in Scripture, and in the world. The Bible says Christ is “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact imprint of God’s nature (Heb 1:3). No one can know God except through Christ (John 14:6). Scripture reveals God’s very breath (2 Tim 3:16). The Bible is big T Truth (John 17:17). If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible aloud! God’s truth comes to us through His creation, as well (Rom 1:20). God’s creation is a great preacher (Ps 19:1) Even the industrious ant ought to be considered when theologizing (Prov 6:6).
The task of theology is to take all of God’s revealed truth – from Christ, Scripture, and the world – and put it together into a wholistic, intelligible framework. This synthesis involves biblical truth, as well as extra-biblical truth. No iota of truth can be neglected, though certain truth (like Scripture) must have some preeminence. This endeavor is hard work. We will never arrive this side of eternity. Nonetheless, we strive in humility, knowing and believing that God’s “greatness is unsearchable” (Ps 145:3).