Saturday, May 28, 2011

The theologian's task

"There is no room in dogmatic theology for a system that attempts to deduce the truths of faith from an a priori principle, say, from the essence of religion, from the essence of Christianity, from the fact of regeneration, or from the experience of the devout. This is speculation and must be resisted. Dogmatic theology is a positive science that gathers its material from revelation and does not have the right to modify or expand that content by speculation apart from that revelation. When because of limitations or weakness a theologian is faced with the choice either of simply letting the truths of faith stand alongside each other or, in the interest of maintaining the systematic form, fail to do justice to one of them, we must let the system go. Theologians must resist the temptation to let a system rule. But such dilemmas occur because we theologians are finite and limited. There is no conflict in God; God's thoughts cannot be opposed to one another; they are necessarily an organic unity. The imperative task of the theologian is to think God's thoughts after him, to trace their unity, mentally absorb it, and set it forth in a work of theology. The theologian's sole responsibility is to think God's thoughts after him and to reproduce the unity that is objectively present in the thoughts of God has been recorded for the eye of faith in Scripture." (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, p. 10)

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