CHR Comment: A Pulitzer Prize winning author offers a cautionary tale about fear and faith. The witch trials were a classic example of overreaction and mob mentality that led to injustice. The decisions in this case damaged the authority of the churches in colonial America. The author points out that “Mercy goes missing.”
Steves visits with an Orthodox priest and describes why their look and service seem foreign to western Christians.
At times God [reveals His Word] by an internal breathing-on or inspiring that includes immediate illumination. At times God does this through external speech, and this is published mediately or immediately by angels and humans as His heralds and ministers, or it is put into writing, and this we call the written Word or Holy Scripture. These distinctions, however, do not create any essential difference within the Word of God. . . . After all, it is one and the same Word and counsel of God regarding our salvation.
Gerhard, Theological Commonplaces Exegesis 1, p. 24
Since the Word is one, we participate in disseminating that one Word when we proclaim or write about the Lord. We join ranks with all the prophets and saints of all times who proclaimed the one Word. We have a connection with all hearers of all time who have heard and read the one Word. We are even connected with all created order, which God called forth in the beginning by the one Word. He upholds all things by the Word of His power (Heb 1:3).
The ultimate end of theology is not bare knowledge, but action.
Gerhard, Theological Commonplaces, Ex 1, p. 21.
When Gerhard writes about the “end” of theology, he means its goal, what it’s driving toward. We are poor theologians until we act upon what we have learned of God. Our acts should express themselves toward God our Maker, from who we learned theology, and toward those around us, whom God loves.
Toward God, our action is prayer and praise. Toward mankind, it is likewise praise of our (and their) Maker that manifests itself in mercy. (Sometimes mercy manifests itself in rendering judgment upon those who do evil, so that others might be delivered from evil: e.g., military and police work.) In acting on our knowledge of God, we join ourselves to God’s end: to save and treasure His creation through His beloved Son.
The simple words of which ‘theology’ is composed appear in Scripture, namely, logos theou (Rom. 3:2; 1 Pet. 4:11; Heb. 5:12).
Gerhard’s Theological Commonplaces, Exegesis I, p. 17 (CPH, 2009).
When one writes for God, one writes theology. This points out the seriousness and depth of the task. Yet note how Gerhard draws his thoughts from common passages of Scripture that one might read and re-read. One cannot let the seriousness and depth of the topic prevent writing simply, clearly, and commonly about God.