Or with which doctrine, anyway.

That was the question that the folks at Patheos asked a number of evangelical pastors and theologians.  The responses are worth reading in full, but Mark Roberts‘ is (not surprisingly) especially good:

Let me explain why I think it’s not cheating to say the American church needs theology, a right understanding of God. As I considered other doctrines that are badly needed in today’s church, I kept tracing the problem back to an inadequate or erroneous view of God. Take, for example, ecclesiology. The root problem in our notion and practice of church is our basic perception of God. We make church incidental when we fail to understand the relational (triune) nature of God. We make church “all about me” when we neglect God’s Lordship. We think worship is primarily a matter of our emotional experiences when we ignore God’s glory. We turn church into a club when we lose touch with the seeking love of God. We allow church to be too otherworldly when we forget God as Creator. We make church an end in and of itself when we neglect the mission of God. We make a sport of dumping on the church when we disregard God’s love for the church. And so forth and so on. As long as our doctrine of God is inadequate (not that any theology will ever fully comprehend God), all the rest of our doctrines will follow suit. When we get the basics of God right, then the rest of our beliefs can be built on a solid foundation.

This strikes me as exactly right.  And humbling.  I have occasionally been tempted to think that evangelical’s problems are grounded in their anthropology, but mistaken and false anthropologies only exist in the church where a misguided doctrine of God lets them in.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

One Comment

  1. I think Roberts is right, which is why an evangelical theological renewal must begin with the Incarnation. We only know God as the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;” Incarnation is the gate to a robust doctrine of God. It also hands us a more accurate anthropology, for if Christ is incarnate, than so are we, and we live a faith that must also be incarnated. Not only is this a useful way of thinking about faith, but it also is much more attractive to a postmodern world that desires to experience faith rather than intellectualize it.


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