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Integrative Theology

The moment that I gave my life to Christ I knew that my life had changed and had been impacted. As I knelt at that altar and asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins, I was amazed to realize the peace and joy that was available to me even after a lifetime of sin and running from God. Amazingly one prayer had wiped out all those years and put me on the course to live righteously and prepare to discover and live out the calling that God had for my life. There has been nothing like it since, and it is so easy to look back at that moment and remember how great it felt to have such a heavy weight come off of me.

I was so excited to go and tell others about the joy I had found! I was ready to take what I knew, combine it with the boldness I felt at that time and go and tell others about the greatest gift a man or woman can receive. It wasn’t long however before I found out that this free gift of forgiveness was not the easiest gift for others to receive. As I told family and friends about Jesus I was immediately tossed into arguments refuting for believing that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

In the process I also found out that the doctrine and beliefs that I heard in my church were not always the same in other churches. One church believed in healing, one didn’t. One believed in being filled with the Holy Spirit while another had no idea what you were talking about. It was clear that if I was going to become everything Jesus wanted me to be, I would need to be able “to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

Since “a coherent world view and way of life provides a necessary context for our ethical decision making in general” (Lewis 21), I understood that I had to know what I believed as well as why I believed it. I especially needed to be sure my beliefs were solid in my heart so that I could live my life by them. It is so easy for world views to change, so I knew that the people I ministered to needed to see a solid view about Christ as well as every other area of my life. This whole process is what every believer needs to take to bring them to the mature life that Christ intended.

Not every individual that a believer runs across will see it the same way as he or she does, but the unsaved as well as the saved must see a life that has researched all the different elements and with diligent prayer, study of the Word and seeking God, move to a world view that is the most practical and filled with the least complications. The mature Christian will be the one that does this and as they live this life, will become more able to walk in the freedom that Christ has given them.

While there are many approaches to theology a believer can use to better understand his or her relationship with God, the integrative process makes a great deal of sense. Integrative theology utilizes a distinctive verification method of decision making as it defines a major topic, surveys influential alternative answers in the church, amasses relevant biblical data in their chronological development, formulates a comprehensive conclusion, defends it against compelling alternatives, and exhibits its relevance for life and ministry (Lewis 25).

This type of theology gives the student an opportunity to not only look at the final authority, the Word of God, but also gives the chance to look at church history, as well as a way of presenting the experience or creating a compelling argument after backing of the viewpoint against so many other contrary opinions. There are five steps to doing theology the integrative way. Once an individual has a problem or question to solve, the theologian looks at the problem from several different views.

This scholar looks at the historical viewpoint to see what the church has said over the centuries in reference to the question. This leads the tester into the Biblical basis of the problem where he or she looks specifically at what God’s Word has to say about the topic being asked. Next, the student looks at alternate answers to the question, critiquing and deciphering what different individuals have said. Once this is complete, the student can now make a rational decision without a lot of contradiction, or at least with as little contradiction as possible.

This will make the final step of integrative theology beneficial to a theologian as he takes his world view into society and defends what he believes. Over time, a more solid belief system will emerge as the student defends and better understands his viewpoint. One must realize there is no perfect way of doing theology; however, the integrative theology method comes close. As I studied these principals, I found my only complaint was in not making the Bible the first place we go to as we answer the questions that come up.

I realize the author never intends to leave out Scripture and does not recommend replacing it with anything else, but we must always keep in consideration that the Bible is the truth. Outside of the truth of God’s Word there is no truth. While what has been accepted throughout the church age is beneficial to help one approach a question, church fathers have been wrong in some cases, such as when the church attacked Martin Luther for believing that one could be saved by faith and not by works.

The sole place to go is the Word of God, than we can look at all other areas so that we can be better informed about the theories behind the questions we ask. Still after studying the history of some of these ways that theologians have theorized throughout the ages I stand by the belief that integrative theology is a valid theological method. To approach problems in this type of way will only make me more informed and better at apologetics, as well as creating a more solid Biblical world view. Chapter Two “What about God? “

You hear it everyday as you maneuver your way through the basics of life. From the workplace to the television set, to even your next door neighbor you are guaranteed to run into someone that does not share the same view of God that you do. In fact, there is a good chance that you will run into a world view that shapes its founding on atheism, humanism or plain Satanism. As a Christian it is understandable that we have trouble witnessing to the masses of those who the Bible declares have been “blinded” by the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

It definitely is going to take someone who is well founded in his faith and who will walk the walk that Christ desires to make an impact in this world. To be able to better perform this “Ministry of reconciliation” that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:17, we must have a firm understanding about how God reveals Himself to us. Obviously there is a great debate over whether any person can know anything about God. After all He is all knowing, and has always existed, so how can we know anything about this Heavenly Being? To help understand God better we can take a look through integrative theology to better understand Him.

Throughout the church age revelation has been seen in two different ways, general and special. General refers to how God has revealed Himself through a person’s heart, in what He has created and through history. Special is concerned with God revealing Himself through Jesus, prophets, miracles and the like. In a sense the Word of God is the basis for special revelation. Since “it is no exaggeration to say that the foundational issue in Christian theology deals with the nature and scope of divine revelation” (Lewis 62), this has becomes one of the predominate issues for Christians.

Augustine maintained that God gives everyone a basic knowledge of who He is (66) and Scripture does maintain in the book of Romans that we all have an elementary understanding of a Divine Being that we can feel in our heart (Romans 1:20), but there are also other viewpoints of revelation (such as the liberal view that says that we will know God if we will just think about it enough, as well as others) that one must be familiar with. The Word of God however is clearer.

From the very beginning in Genesis 1:1 there is not even a defense to the existence of God. I have always seen this as God’s way of dealing with the argument of existence and revelation. God tells us through a human writer that He was there in the beginning, and He needs no other defense. The books of Job and Psalm deal with the aspect of general revelation, discussing the creation of God (Job 36:24-37:24, 38:1-39:30, Ps. 8,, 19, 29, 65, 104, 148 and many more).

Paul spends time discussing from the advantage point of God as creator with his audience, obviously a truth that the people were very familiar with (Acts 14:15-17) and in Acts 17, he begins by establishing truths that are already agreed upon such as the knowledge of God that the people had through general revelation. The author presents probably the greatest basis for revelation in the Bible from Paul’s letter to the Romans 1:18- 32 (70-71). Here he points out four important points related to how God has revealed Himself to man.

The first basis that Paul makes is that every person has been given a knowledge that God exists by the Lord Himself (vv. 19-21), while the second point tells us that a revelation of God also happens by a rational consideration of what God has done (v. 20). The third point Paul makes is that if we don’t obey the Word of God and this knowledge that we have we run the danger of suppressing the truth because of our inherent nature of sin that is within us (vv. -22, 28).

The final basis the Apostle makes is that due to this suppression, God calls us guilty according to His holiness (v. 20). Once we look at what the Bible says, the Christian can now develop a sound biblical worldview. From Scripture we can know that God has made Himself known and that He is Creator. Our proposition than is that all people know something of God and have been given a desire to know Him which some seek after while some suppress.

Since we believe the Bible to be the Word of God and as such the final authority, any contradiction to this belief system would be labeled as false in opposition to the Christian worldview. As believers, any viewpoint outside of this would be contradictory and therefore false. I found the Humanistic worldview interesting in the sense that they have a lot of the same moral stances and viewpoints that we do as Christians. However, without a basis for the belief they have, the worldview becomes very contradictory.

As Christians, our faith hinges on the redemptive plan of God, with every believer being brought back and reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19), back to what they were created to be and do as well as what they have been searching for their entire lives. How tragic to have a knowledge of God inside of you, yet to keep suppressing that hidden longing for God trying to find that great peace and joy in every other opportunity, and guise that the world has to offer.

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