Confessional and Functional Theology
The sad thing is when you use the word doctrine, many people think these are just abstract truths for seminary hallways. I just need to know Jesus and love Jesus. The doctrines of the word of God—the things that the Bible teaches us—are for our lives.
Every doctrine forms a culture for your living. This is God explaining who he is. This is God explaining who I am. This is God explaining what life is about. This is God explaining meaning and purpose. This is God explaining values that are worth living for.
So, every doctrine is not abstract, distant, and impersonal. Every doctrine is practical. It’s meant to guide us, and so God blesses us with these truths. What has happened is that there has developed in the history of the church, a separation between our confessional theology and our functional theology. There shouldn’t be that dichotomy because of the nature of faith.
Faith is not just something you do with your brain. Faith is a commitment of your heart that changes the way you live every day. If you look at Hebrews 11—that chapter that defines faith—you don’t read what those people believed. The whole chapter is about how they lived. The way you live really defines what you truly believe.
Faith is not just something you do with your brain.
So, doctrine is intensely practical. It’s a loving gift of God so that we can understand who we are, understand what life is about, understand what is broken around us, understand how it gets fixed, understand the nature of God; and in so doing, be able to live the way we were designed to live.
Paul David Tripps is the author of Do You Believe?: 12 Historic Doctrines to Change Your Everyday Life.
If you have struggled with this doctrine, you are not alone. Even Jonathan Edwards once wrestled with it before he became fully satisfied with it.
We live in polarized times. Outrage and rancor seem to be simmering all around us, and it’s making it harder to talk across ideological lines.
Why do we need systematic theology? How we answer the question depends a lot on what we think theology is.
To explore the wonder of who Christ is and stir our hearts to worship him, let us consider two questions about who he is.