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Tag: Epistemology

What’s the point of theology? (Ephesians 1:17–18)

The full name of the college I teach at is “Moore Theological College”. That word “Theological” says something important about who we are. It reminds us about what we’re on about. Yes, the Bible is at the centre of everything we do. Yes, we seek to train people for ministry. Yes, we’re driven by the worldwide mission of Jesus Christ. Yes, we’re committed to learning together, and having our characters formed in loving Christian community. But our careful study of the Bible, and our pastorally-motivated ministry and mission training, and our encouragement of one another in our community, all matter because of something more basic: theology. Unfortunately, the word “theology” can be misunderstood. It sometimes gets used to mean something like “technical details about spiritual things that experts argue about and isn’t much practical use to regular people”. But that’s just a caricature. It’s not what theology is. Theology is something far more profound, far more life-changing, and far more fundamental—not just for people at a college, but for everyone. In Ephesians 1:17–18, Paul prays for his readers—people who have come to believe in and live for Jesus Christ. It’s a prayer for more theology.

The Bible doesn’t say

A few weeks ago, Bobby died. It happened quite quickly. On Thursday, he was sitting merrily on his perch. On Friday, he was shivering and looking pretty unimpressed with life. On Saturday morning, he was standing on the floor of the cage with his eyes half open, rocking back and forth. At lunchtime, when the kids and I took him to the vet, he had decided it would be best to have a little lie down. The vet was kind but decisive.

We took Bobby home in a very small plastic bag. There were tears. My wife’s former history teacher (that’s a whole other story) dug a hole in the backyard, and another friend of ours found a little mournful-looking stone dog to act as headstone. Family, friends and the former history teacher prayed together that God would comfort us in our loss.

Then came the inevitable question from the 6-year-old: “Is Bobby in heaven now?” Hmm. I know that there will be a new, physical creation (Isa 65:17), and it seems like the new creation will contain, at the very least, contented wolves, baby sheep, lions, cattle and humiliated snakes (Isa 65:25). But will there be a spiritual continuity of identity between the Bobby we knew and a particular budgie in the hereafter? There didn’t seem to be enough biblical data to form a meaningful answer. So I answered as I only could: “The Bible doesn’t say”.

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