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How to Make Theology Simple: Exploring 10 Key Aspects of Theology Proper

Theology can feel daunting. When we hear the word 'theology' we think of Bible scholars sitting among stacks of books wearing white collars with their thick glasses at the end of their noses.

But what if I told you theology is for everyone? What if I told you that theology is for the mom chasing toddlers and sweeping up cheerios and the college student neck-deep in exams and the career woman climbing the corporate ladder. And this may surprise you: What if I told you that you are already a theologian?

Theology is simply what we know and believe about God and His world - it's thoughts and conversations about God. Therefore everyone is a theologian because everyone has thoughts and beliefs about God. As Christians, we want our theology to align with Scripture.

If theology is the study of God, we must first ask, "Who is God?" This is the core question of theology proper, which explores God and His attributes. Let's consider 10 key aspects of theology proper.

1. What is the Trinity?

God is one and three.

This thought is perhaps the most difficult mystery the human mind has ever tried to wrap itself around.

There is one God, manifested in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The first glimpse we see of a Trinitarian God is in the first chapter of Genesis. “Let US make man in our image" (Gen. 1:26).

There are not three roles played by one person, nor are there three gods in a cluster. There is one God manifested in three Persons.

2. What is general revelation?

God graciously reveals Himself to us in two ways: general revelation and special revelation.

General revelation refers to God revealing Himself to all people through His creation. In other words, we can know general truths about God through nature.

Nature continually points to the existence and glory of God. Majestic mountain peaks, oceans teeming with unusual and brilliant creatures, and the intricacies of the human body all point to an all-powerful, all-knowing, infinitely creative God.

God shows the world who He is through His works in creation.

3. What is the aseity of God?

God is completely self-existent and self-sufficient.

The doctrine of God’s aseity means that God has life in Himself and draws His unending energy from Himself.

In short, He has no needs.

God is the uncaused cause. As the uncreated Creator, He is the source and sustainer of all things.

While He is completely and eternally self-existent and independent, we are completely and eternally dependent on Him.

4. What does it mean that God is gracious?

The word 'grace' means 'favour, blessing and kindness.'

The grace of God is His unmerited and undeserved favour toward those who have not earned it. His grace is an expression of His love towards sinners. While mercy withholds the punishment we deserve, grace lavishly gives blessings we don't deserve.

We are all recipients of God's abundant grace. Life and breath, gifts and blessings, salvation and eternal life - all is grace.

We have received, from His fullness, grace upon grace.

5. What does it mean that God is omniscient?

God is all-knowing. All knowledge belongs to Him and originates with Him. There is nothing beyond His comprehension - past, present or future.

God has never needed to learn because He has always known everything. He knows how everything in His world works. He is intimately acquainted with every person. Having known us from eternity past, He knows the inner workings of our hearts and motives.

There is nothing too hard for an omniscient God. We will spend eternity with our God, but our knowledge of Him will never be complete. Our wonder, love and praise of Him will go on forever.

6. What is a theophany?

A theophany is a physical manifestation of God to humans. Since God is invisible, He sometimes takes on a tangible form to communicate with people.

Theophanies often come in the form of angels or something in nature, however, we should not assume that this is what God looks like.

Examples of theophanies in Scripture are the burning bush and the pillar of fire that led the Israelites in Exodus.

God uses theophanies to communicate an aspect of His nature and character.

7. What does it mean that God is sovereign?

Having supreme and ultimate power, God's Lordship extends over all people in all places at all times.

As a King on His throne in Heaven, He reigns over His creation. His sovereignty also extends over principalities and powers in the spiritual realm. He exercises dominion over great things and little details alike.

He controls, chooses and carries out His will, and nothing can thwart His plans.

He is more than able to work all things together for good in the lives of those who love Him.

8. What is divine simplicity?

Divine simplicity is the idea that God does not exist in parts but is wholly unified. His existence is synonymous with His essence.

God does not possess qualities or characteristics; He is those qualities. For example, God does not have love, He is love. God does not merely extend grace, He embodies grace.

Furthermore, God's various attributes cannot be divided and distinguished. They are all part of His essence.

All that is in God simply is God. God is His attributes.

9. What does it mean that God is transcendent?

God exists infinitely above and independent of His creation.

He far surpasses the ordinary. God is not subject to the limitations of the universe.

Being transcendent, God exists outside of time and space and therefore is unknowable and unsearchable. We can't possibly come to understand or experience Him personally.

And yet, He is also immanent, drawing close to His creation, revealing Himself to us, and inviting us to know Him.

10. What is the tetragrammaton?

The tetragrammaton refers to the ancient name of God: YHWH. Tetragrammaton means "four letters."

Ancient Hebrew does not have vowels in its alphabet. In written form, it only has consonants. In the original Hebrew, God’s name transliterates to YHWH.

Later, vowels were added to make the tetragrammaton pronounceable: Yahweh.

The name Yahweh refers to God’s self-existence. Yahweh is linked to how God described Himself in Exodus 3:14: God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.'

Theology proper encompasses many more topics than the ten mentioned above, and as the foundation of all theology, it's important to understand these core truths.

If you would like to explore more topics in theology proper, check out these THEOLOGY CARDS! Expand your theological knowledge with 35 beautifully designed theology cards featuring a topic on the front and a simple explanation on the back.


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