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Joe Branca

Good stuff. The desire for precision itself is not the problem, but that desire should be shifted away from the pursuit of theological intellectual understanding, instead desiring a precision in applying what theological understanding we have to situations appropriately. I'm thinking of Titus 3:3-8,

"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God **may be careful to devote themselves to good works**."

p.s. From what I understand Van Til himself was quite the model of putting theology and apologetics into action, in a way many of us could learn from moreso than getting the finer points of his ideas down.


The years you were in seminary, I was in college (undergrad).

I too sat around debating furiously, with great zeal. However, the majority of our "theology-argument group" was made up of friends who stayed friends and continue to encourage each other in the Lord's grace.

Sadly, there were indeed some who were false brothers and after college denied the faith. That was a miserable shock.

In any case, my experience has been that among sincere brothers who debate the issues with right motives, problem "#2" is the real temptation. We share and learn so much from each other as a group, that it diminishes pride. Our collective growth binds us together in increasing unity. And an integral part of the process is living out what we learn together in sincere love.

But our most frequent area of discouragement and weakness of faith has been in feeling like we, after all, have so little "figured out" and forgetting that our puny intellects are not obstacles to God in Christ. His strength is perfected in our weakness; what is impossible with us, He can do; and He has already accomplished and guaranteed the fullness of blessing *for* us.

The theological perfectionist is really in need of greater assurance! The irony.

Randall Perins

Hi Lee,

Great post for us reformed folk! I too am frequently beguiled by the two idols named. We should endeaver to understand, know and confess our faith; nevertheless we must above all love one another in Christ. This love should be that which all christians reflect when seeking to conform to Christ's image.

Thanks again.

R Perkins


Great post, Lee. I couldn't agree more; nor could I be more guilty of what you speak. Thank goodness we have a Savior!

Josh Mann

I think 'secondary' is a key word which you've brought up. I would use it a bit differently. Theologizing is secondary (and subsequent) to exegesis.

Lee Irons

I was using "theology" in a broad sense to cover the whole gamut from exegesis to biblical theology to theology. In my view, theologizing is not totally separate from or subsequent to exegesis. The reason is that the ultimate rule of exegesis is context, not just the immediate paragraph or book but ultimately all that God has revealed in Scripture. When we do exegesis, we must take account of the teaching of Scripture as a whole, taking less seriously interpretations that would create tension with other clear teachings of Scripture, and taking more seriously those that produce greater systematic coherence. Thus, exegesis would seem to be a theological activity or at least an activity with a theological aspect. Having said that, I agree that exegesis is "prior" to theology in the logical sense that all theologizing must be based on and corrected by exegesis.

Truth Unites... and Divides

Hi Lee,

I found your post via JT's Between Two Worlds. Very nice post.

Question: Heresy-hunting has a bad connotation. Whether it should or not, I don't know. Anyways, do you draw a distinction between heresy-hunting and theological perfectionism?

If so, how would you define the differences between the two? Can one be a "good" heresy hunter and not be a theological perfectionist?

Or would you say that heresy hunters are typically and/or predominantly theological perfectionists?

Lee Irons

From a purely analytical point of view, heresy hunting and theological perfectionism are not the same. For example, you can only hunt for big obvious heresies, like denials of the deity of Christ. But from a practical point of view, the two are related. Both are often indicators of deeper spiritual problems -- the need to be right, spiritual pride, lack of charity, and so on. I liked Challie's post on this back in April that sparked some discussion on the Christian blogosphere (http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/evil-as-entertainment.php).

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