term paper#2: what source of theology to choose?
Why Should Scripture Be the Main Source of the Theology?
Some have called the Bible a love letter from God. While some parts of the Bible do not really remind of a St. Valentine’s notes, when one takes the Old Testament and New Testament, it is easy to notice the underlying golden thread that is present throughout the story. “I made you, I love you, I want to know you and I want you to know Me. Here I am.” God opens up and tells us enough to know so we can trust Him without wavering.
If we could choose only one from the four sources of theology (from Wesleyan Quadrilateral), it would be Scripture. This is the question most Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic churches agree upon.
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, passed on to humans, inspired by the Holy Spirit. It presents us with the information we need to be saved. Also, it is the most universal of all since reason, tradition, and experience are all influenced by the personal background, the historical context of when and where one lives, and the Scripture as well, since they all are based on the Biblical writings.
Reason helps us to utilize the brain and conscience that was given to us by God. We were created as thinking creatures, therefore to say that we only have to believe without reason would be somewhat of a voluntary “intellectual castration.” While there are Christians who get extreme and say that science is that of the devil and all we need is faith, it is a rather dumb statement. If we believe that God has created this world (in however many days that He wanted to), then it is logical to conclude that all the scientific discoveries humankind are making is actually discoveries of how God made this world. Granted, scientists have done their share of mocking religion and God, saying that “We have been to the space and haven’t seen God there.” A healthy balance is necessary, like in many areas of our lives. Personally for me, science has been a tool I have used to marvel at just how amazing and astounding our God the Creator is.
With tradition, there is a similar struggle. Many Christians have tried to deny the impact tradition has on their faith. However, it is (nearly) impossible since in order to remove the influence of the tradition, one would have to be born away from any writings and choose not to hear / read anything like the Church fathers’ writings that might affect the belief. Also, to raise a child in such a way, it would be incredibly difficult because whether we want it or not, we are influenced by our background – and all these efforts will probably be useless anyway, because the child will simply formulate his / her own traditions along the way based on his / her parents’ way of upbringing.
What about experience? There are churches and Christians who believe that all you need is a personal experience, something like Paul had on his way to Damascus. A divine vision that makes one believe without doubt and no other proof necessary. Paul has received this experience, but his fellow travellers only saw light. Besides, it is important to remember that Paul knew the Scriptures of his day by heart since he was a “seminary student.” His personal experience explained what he knew instead of telling him something completely new. And while this kind of experience is good for the receiver, it is not something applicable to more than one person.
Therefore, as we can see, while reason, tradition, and experience are important since they all describe and give context to the Scripture, it is the Scripture that is the #1 source for theology.