Are You Ready For a Real Theologian? by Richard Burnett
Few in our generation have written more perceptively about the challenges of ministry than Eugene Peterson. In a creative but lesser known work, The Wisdom of Each Other: A Conversation Between Spiritual Friends, Peterson writes to an old college friend, “Gunnar,” who contacted him after forty years of “virtual silence.” Summer 2018 Theology Matters, P. 15
Finding Joy on the Journey of Grief By Peter B. Barnes
“No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. I am not afraid, but I’m experiencing the sensation of being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.” “At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.” Spring 2018, Theoloy Matters, Pg. 13
The Reformed Pastor Confronts the “Last Enemy” by Allen C. McSween
Every aspect of pastoral ministry can and should be viewed as an occasion for theological witness and reflection. Nowhere is that more important than in the face of death with the depth of the issues it raises and the intensity of the grief it provokes. The stark reality of death blows away our empty clichés like an umbrella in a hurricane. In this essay I will focus primarily on the theological significance of the funeral service and sermon. That is not meant to denigrate other aspects of the church’s pastoral ministry on the occasion of death which are vitally important, but it is to insist that in the work of comforting the bereaved the pastor on behalf of the Church universal has a unique Word to proclaim that is and always will be “of first importance” (1 Cor. 15:1). Spring 2018, Theology Matters, Pg. 6
Does Theology Matter? by the Rev. Richard Burnett, PhD.
The new executive director of Theology Matters answers the question. He maintains that what we say about God has a profound effect in shaping individuals and societies—even when the theology is unacknowledged, even when its adherents may be atheists who reject God as they conceive him. For the church, theology is not just any talk about God but our response to what God has said about himself in his Word. Theology is a necessary tool for the church to respond faithfully to God’s self-revelation. Theology, to borrow Calvin’s phrase, guides us in determining “what [we] ought especially to seek in Scripture, and to what end [we] ought to relate its contents.” Summer 2016 Theology Matters, p. 1
Why Church Leaders Should Study Theology by Mark Patterson
In order to lead any organization one must clearly, accurately, and firmly perceive two realities. The first is what the organization exists to accomplish. The second is how well the organization is fulfilling this purpose. Where either (or worse, both) of these ceases to provide guidance and influence, the organization will inevitably become directionless, purposeless, and irrelevant. Fall 2016 Theology Matters, p.6
The Priority of Authority: Holy Scripture and Human Sexuality, by Robert P. Mills. Mills is a PCUSA pastor and is currently teaching at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA.
Author Robert Mills begins his article by quoting the common mantra of liberals explaining why there has been such division in the church over sexuality, “We all agree on the authority of Scripture. We just disagree about interpretation.” Mills then exposes the fallacy of this mantra saying, “It is the first half of their statement, ‘We all agree on the authority of Scripture,” that is so obviously absurd. For the chasm dividing evangelicals and liberals in their understanding of the authority of Scripture is, if anything, greater than that separating their interpretation of specific passages.”
Mills explains the church’s historic meaning of revelation and its relationship to Scripture, “Theologians use the term ‘revelation’ to describe God’s communication of divine truth to his human creation. A good, short definition of revelation is ‘the significant self-disclosure of God to man.’”
Enlightenment thinkers attacked the church’s doctrine of revelation because they rejected “supernatural revelation.” Mills writes, “Enlightenment philosophy is the source and substance of liberal theology. Rejecting as “unenlightened’ the very possibility of divine revelation, mainline liberals have followed Enlightenment philosophers in degrading the Bible from God’s self-revelation to a mere collection of human reflections on the religious experiences of certain groups of individuals. For such liberals, the Bible is not, nor does it contain, the Word of God. Therefore, it has no more authority than a novel or a magazine article.”
Historically, orthodox Christians sought to understand the original author’s meaning of the text becuase the text is the revelation of God, and then they applied that meaning to their situation. Liberals reject the text’s authority given by the Author. Instead, for liberals, the reader’s meaning, not the original author’s meaning, is authoritative. Whatever insight the reader gleans is authoritative for him/her, regardless of whether it agrees with what the text says. The shift is from the meaning of the text as a revelation of God given through human authors, to the reader’s meaning of the text even if that meaning is in direct opposition to the words of the text. The reader’s meaning is now authoritative.
Mills explains the result of this erroneous liberal thinking, “I once heard an Old Testament professor acknowledge that there is no question that the plain meaning of the Old Testament Hebrew is that homosexual behavior is sinful in God’s eyes. However he concluded, ‘The Bible is simply wrong at that point.’” Nov/Dec 2011 Theology Matters p. 1
A Christian Theory of Knowledge by Randall Otto Ph. D. Otto is a PCUSA pastor.
"In the process of making her own determination of how things ought to be, Eve sets the word of God and the word of Satan on the same level and makes herself the final arbiter between them. She elevates her interpretation above God's, inverting the Creator-creature relationship and setting herself up as God."