Theology and Personal Need

In Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, John Frame gives his readers what is, to my mind, the best and “personalist” understanding of theology and it’s goal:

Theology, then, must be a secondary description, a reinterpretation and reproclamation of Scripture, both of its propositional and of its non-propositional content. Why do we need such a reinterpretation? To meet human needs… The job of theology is to teach people the truth of God…theology is justified by the help it brings to people, by its success in helping people to use the truth.

If theology is a purely “objective” discipline where the scientist determines “the truth as it really is” apart from any human need, then he cannot help but be in competition with Scripture. He will be seeking a better formulation than Scripture itself contains or at least a better “order.”

“Objectivism” continues to be a danger in orthodox Christian circles. It is also easy for us to imagine that we have a higher task than merely that of helping people… Our theologies are not even the best formulation of truth-for-people for all times and places; Scripture is that. Our theologies are merely attempts to help people, generally in specific times and places, to use Scripture better.

I would suggest that we define theology as “the application of the Word of God by persons to all areas of life.”

Despite its focus on human need, this definition does a full justice to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. Sola scriptura does not require that human needs be ignored in theology, only that Scripture have the final say about the answers to those needs (and about the propriety of the questions presented).

-John M. Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 79-81.

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Posted on July 16, 2012, in John Frame, John Frame Stuff and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Theology Girl and commented:
    One of the most important books for every student of theology and believer. Read…

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