“Articles of faith are derivatives, namely, conclusions taken from the Scriptures. Therefore not they but Scripture itself is the only and proper principle of theology.” Gerhard, Theological Commonplaces: Exegesis I, p. 25.
What I write and teach is derived from Scripture and must remain subject to the Scripture—the principle of knowing about God, who is Himself the principle of being and the first cause of theology.
When I’m writing for God, I’m connecting people to the Scripture, which connects them to the greatest writer—God Himself—who composes a word and brings things into being through it (Gn 1:3). Now that’s creative writing!
Remarkably, God chooses to work through me and through you.
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.