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THEOLOGY > Man > Crown of Creation > Methodology 


What is the proper perspective of Theology—God or Christ, Theology Proper or Christology? What should be the center of the theological system: the Trinitarian God or the Person and Work of Christ? What determines and guides theological investigation and reflection: the God of Genesis 1:1 or the Word of John 1:1? Perhaps the last question seems irreverent, but it focuses upon the crucial problem: what is the point of reference in theological study? Is it the Trinity or one of the Persons of the Trinity?

At issue is the locus of theological inquiry and the resulting organization and explanation of Biblical teaching. Is Biblical study and theological writing to be in terms of God or in terms of the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit? Is a theology based upon God too mystical and heavenly, or, as some would say, too metaphysical? Is a theology based upon the Son or the Spirit too limiting and narrow, creating too much of a restricted framework for doing theology? Should the investigation be in terms of God, one of the specific Persons of the Trinity, or perhaps should the study be in terms of some other topic, such as Law/Grace or the Kingdom motif?

To argue that a center in Theos tends to metaphysical thoughts and gives undue emphasis to transcendence is beside the point, when Theos is at the center of the Biblical Revelation. It is to raise an issue that is not an issue in the Scriptures. Beginning with the first verse, the Bible affirms God, expounds God, and interprets all of reality in terms of God. In Genesis God is declared and His Creation is stated, and in the book of Revelation the City of God descends to the new earth so God can dwell with His people. Throughout Scripture the reader is confronted with God and His doings. God is mentioned in sixty-five of the sixty-six books, the book of Esther being the only exception, but even here the control of God in the affairs of men is clearly depicted. The Bible is about God.

Since the Bible is about God, it seems that all of theology should be conducted in terms of and with reference to the God who has revealed Himself as Creator and Redeemer, and who is Sovereign in all things. If the Scriptures assume and present God as He is in Himself and by what He does, then theology should assume and present God in the same manner. Should not the focal point of Revelation be the focal point of theology?

If God is the heart of the study of the Scriptures, then what should be the starting point when constructing an Anthropology? Should an investigation be initiated in the Old Testament, or is the New Testament the place to begin?

What is the proper perspective of Anthropology—Creation or Redemption? To understand the essential nature of man, should the investigation commence with man’s origin or man’s redemption? Should the study begin in Genesis or in the Gospels? Should man be considered as man, before he is considered as fallen man or as redeemed man? Should the point of beginning be the Garden of Eden or the hill of crucifixion?

Just as the Scriptures begin with God, Who is the frame of reference for all of the Revelation that is from Him, so the Scriptures begin with the creation of man, followed by a presentation of his sin and then the accomplishment of his redemption. This approach of Scripture reflects the sequence of historical events (Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation), and this logical and sequential presentation is pleasing to man’s rational thinking. To follow the same sequence in considering Anthropology is to establish an order that is consistent with Revelation and thus assists in establishing a sound theology regarding man.

It seems that Anthropology should begin at the beginning, with the creation of man and then move to later developments and understand them in terms of man’s original creation. Surely, sin and redemption cannot be properly comprehended and interpreted without a foundational understanding of the creation of man.

To begin the study of man with Christology or Redemption seems inappropriate for several reasons:

* one, it is contrary to the approach of the Scriptures which begins with creation, moves to man’s sin, then to the redemption of man, and finally to consummation;

* two, the nature of man and the state of man at the time of his creation are foundational to a proper understanding of the later developments regarding him;

* three, for the theologian to begin with the New Testament in order to escape the stigma of an original man and woman is to pick and choose what is vital in the early chapters of Genesis—science should not intimidate the theologian regarding the historicity of the creation account;

* four, if the concepts of “image” and “soul” are vital to a proper understanding of man, then the beginning point must be the account in Genesis—it is inconceivable that the understanding of these concepts should be initiated in the New Testament rather than in the Old Testament;

*five, progressive revelation would seem to dictate that the proper place to begin is at the beginning, with the understanding that every verse of Scripture is interpreted by all the verses of Scripture.

If Anthropology begins with Creation, then two dominant themes come into focus: the concept of the image and the question of the soul. “Image” focuses upon man in relationship to God, while “soul”  draws attention to the animate feature of man’s existence as opposed to inanimate. In these two concepts there is established something of man’s vertical relationship and his horizontal being.

See: Foundations,  Starting Point, Approach, and Significance of Truth

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