After a brief technology time-out we’re back. We’ll continue our journey together by talking about being consistent in how you interpret the Bible. Specifically, we’re talking about being theologically consistent. What we’re concerned with here is that your interpretation of a passage doesn’t conflict with what you believe the Bible teaches in other areas.
Major Topics of Theology
Theology interlocks. What you believe in one area has an impact on what you believe in other areas. Getting a clear, complete picture of Bible doctrine is a little like putting together a puzzle. If you pull on one corner of the puzzle, the whole thing moves.
First we’ll list the major areas of theology, then we’ll discuss an example of how they mesh. (The technical names for each area of study are in parenthesis so you’ll recognize them if you hear someone use them.)
- The Father
- The Son (Christology)
- The Holy Spirit (Pneumenology)
- The Bible (Bibliology)
- Angels (Angelology)
- Satan (Demonology)
- Man (Anthropology)
- Sin (Harmatology)
- Salvation (Soteriology)
- The Church (Ecclesiology)
- The Future (Eschatology)
Of course, each of these areas can be broken down into smaller and smaller areas of study, but this list will do for our discussion.
How Theologies Mesh
The first chapter of Colossians has a lot to say about Jesus Christ. Here is one passage:
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:” (Col 1:14-15)
The whom in this passage is God’s Son, (see verse 13) Jesus Christ. So this verse clearly talks about Christology. This passage also talks about redemption and forgiveness, so it is about soteriology; the doctrine of salvation. Because it says that the Son is, “the image of the invisible God,” it also touches on theology proper; the study of God.
You have at least three important doctrines mentioned in this one passage. How you interpret the last phrase, “the firstborn of every creature,” will have an impact on all three doctrines. What if you take it to mean that Jesus is a created being, and not a person who has always existed? Does that make any difference to your understanding of who Jesus is? That’s easy – of course it does!
One doctrine Christians agree about is that Jesus Christ is God. He is not less God than God the Father (Phil. 2:5-6). He did not begin to exist at His birth in Bethlehem. He did not even begin life as God’s first creation. Rather, He is the promised Messiah, “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Mic. 5:2) While the child was born, the eternal Son was given (Isa. 9:6). He is the Word, Who was in the beginning with God and was God (Joh 1:1-3). We could go on, but you get the idea. Interpreting the passage this way would dramatically impact your Christology.
Misinterpreting that last phrase would also have an impact on your theology. If Christ isn’t eternal, there goes the Trinity. It also touches the doctrine of salvation. Was your salvation accomplished by one creature for another, or was it God who gave Himself for us?
Points to Ponder
Do you take time to do a consistency check when you study the Bible? Do you consider the relationship of your interpretations to the major doctrines of the Bible?
Read More About It
Read 1 John 2:1-2 and identify the theological topics the passage touches on. What if you understood the passage to teach that Christ has paid for everyone’s sin and, therefore, we are all forgiven and in right standing with God automatically? Why would this be wrong?