Friday, November 02, 2007

Ordering Our Theology

"I just can't believe any of it anymore."

This was the statement made by a friend years ago on why he no longer believed Christianity was true. I knew I couldn't respond with Josh McDowell apologetic lines. It was my friend who taught me the responses!

My friend gave up the faith because of a doubt he couldn't answer. His faith was arranged like bowling pins-- when one got knocked down, others quickly followed. Eventually, there was nothing left.

During seminary, one of my mentors, Dr. Dan Wallace, offered a better way for organizing beliefs-- one I've never forgotten since I first heard it. In fact, it's one of the best things I took away from my time at Dallas Seminary.

Arrange your theology in a series of concentric circles.

What's absolutely essential to your faith goes in the center. What's crucial is close to the center. What's non-essential is on the outer edges.

In the center of my circle is the holy and perfect Triune God--Father, Son, and Spirit. Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection is the only hope of salvation from sin-- experienced by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone.

What's in the center of your circle? And where do you prioritize other beliefs, like the nature of the Bible, humanity, or the end times?

C. Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen has an interesting survey to get you started.

And with it, he provides some outstanding categories for plotting your beliefs in a theology of concentric circles.

NEXT TIME: The advantages of arranging your beliefs in concentric circles.

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