This is my third post in a series on theological method. Here are links to the first two:
That second post concluded by saying that we tend to keep think of theology mainly in terms of study and using academic categories, and that we need to broaden our understanding of it.
Today's post picks up on that and offers a working definition of theology which comes from John Frame's book The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, p. 81.
I adhere to the following definition of theology offered by John Frame:
I would suggest that we define theology as “the application of the Word of God by persons to all areas of life.”
Frame gives several advantages to this definition which are worth quoting at length:
1). It gives a clear justification for the work of theology. Theology is not needed to remedy formal or material defects in Scripture but to remedy defects in ourselves, the hearers and readers of Scripture.
2). Theology in this sense has a
clear Scriptural warrant: Scripture commands us to teach in this way (cf. Matt.
28:19f, and many other passages).
3). Despite its focus on human need, this definition does full justice to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. Sola Scriptura does not require that human needs be ignored in theology, only that Scripture have the final say about the answers to those needs (and about the propriety of the questions presented).
4). Theology is thus freed from any
false intellectualism or academicism. It
is able to use scientific methods and academic knowledge where they are
helpful, but it can also speak in nonacademic ways, as Scripture itself does –
exhorting, questioning, telling parables, fashioning allegories and poems and
proverbs and songs, expressing love, joy, pateience . . . the list is without
Frame’s definition makes theology no longer the exclusive domain of the theologian or pastor, but extends it into the domains of mechanics and managers, housewives and teenagers, athletes and artists, and ballerinas and surfer dudes.