The whole of Christian doctrine, 140 characters at a time

1. The Definition of Theology

The definition of theology.

1.1 Theology is knowledge of God.

1.2 Knowledge of God inevitably leads to a transformed life. Theology is therefore the doctrine of how to live well before God.

1.3 Only God truly knows God. God knows Himself fully, truly, and immediately. God’s self-knowledge is true theology.

1.4 We can know God only because God has revealed truth about Himself to us.

1.4.1 The theologian is thus completely dependent on God, and so theology must proceed by prayer.

1.5 Our knowledge of God will be partial, sometimes wrong, and discursive. Our knowledge is ‘theology’ in a derivative and imprecise sense.

1.6 At present, our knowledge of God is limited by both our creatureliness and our sinfulness. In the Kingdom the only limit will be creatureliness.

1.7 Our minds comprehend only created categories which are pale and distorted imperfect, but real, reflections of the divine.

1.7.1 God is truly good, just, wise, &c.; when we use the same words of a human person, we use them analogically.

1.7.2 In our theology, however, we have to start with the analogues and hesitantly apply them to God.

1.7.3 We should, therefore, have confidence in saying ‘God is good’ but humility in claiming to comprehend the full meaning of that.

1.8 Theology is a constructive work, because the connections between revealed truths are not always obvious.

1.8.1 Theology seeks to discern or imagine what must be true for every Biblical claim to be true.

1.9 True knowledge of God will inevitably inspire prayer, worship, and a desire to live well before God.

1.9.1 Therefore, true knowledge of God will change the knower, making her a better, more godly person.

1.10 Theology is connected to revelation and to holiness; it is therefore connected to the church.

1.10.1 Theology is the native body of knowledge of the church: the church may know other things, but must know this.

1.10.2 Properly, theology can only be practiced by the church and for the church.

1.11 Every church is in a particular historical-cultural location, and so all theology is contextual.

1.11.1 Theological formulations must be crafted to be credible and relevant in a particular context.

1.11.2 ‘Credible’ means theology must be expressed in language/concepts that can be understood and accepted within its context.

1.11.3 ‘Relevant’ means theology must address the particular aspirations, needs, questions, and idolatries of its context.

1.11.4 The history of the church is a part of the context of every church, and so theology should be aware of its own history.

1.12 Knowledge of God inspires worship and reverence, so the native language of theology is the language of love and worship.


[Strikethrough indicates changes made from the original tweets. There are two: the use of the word 'distorted' in 1.7 was at least unhelpful, and possibly misleading; I have substituted 'imperfect'; in 1.11.1 'crafted to be' was redundant and possibly invited misunderstanding.]