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Do Full-Gospel Ministers Need Theology? by Larry Taylor

IV. Reconstructing Theology for Full-Gospel Ministers

Historically, “theology” has meant thought or discourse concerning God. In a sense, every Christian has his own theology. The structured elucidation of theology, however, has been and remains the specific task of a class of scholars known as “theologians.” Christian theologians have based their theologies on Scripture as such (Protestant) or church tradition concerning Scripture (Catholic).

But what has theology to do with the local church pastor?

But what has theology to do with the local church pastor? The answer to this question lies in a redefinition of “theology.” For the full-gospel minister, theology is the apprehension of Biblical ideas and principles, and the communication of these truths to the church. If the pastor succeeds in this task, he should expect people to become stimulated to enlarge their concepts of God and salvation, and to apply their credo (“I believe”) to their conducere (“bring together,” i.e., conduct). The specific theological task of the minister is to relate sound theology to his people in such a way that they come to live out that theology in practical principles. Today, this is a serious need in the church. There is a growing concern among families and individuals to find real answers to real problems. In the sixties, frustrated young people threatened to dethrone every authoritative institution, because no one cared enough to provide direction or answers. In our decade, the church must not fail to heed its calling “to be prepared to give an answer (Greek apologia) to every one who asks…” (1 Pet. 3:15).

Any steps toward a full-gospel theology must be firmly planted upon the triune foundation of Christian experience, faith, and God’s willingness to act in self-disclosure.

There is also the timeless principle that we must protect the truth. Never has this principle been more critical. No previous age has awarded such freedom to cults and occult sects to propagate their ideas in a developed nation. Many of these movements are formidable opponents of Christianity because they use the Bible as their primary text, twisting it to their own ends.8 In a nation where reason and education enjoy a high priority, these groups with their refined arguments and persuasive rhetoric have experienced widespread success. And unless the church also knows what it believes, and is able clearly to articulate its beliefs, our denunciation of cultic movements will appear unconvincing to all but our own “in-group.”

Moreover, theology has significant implications for spiritual growth and worship. Genuine worship requires serious inquiry into the nature and greatness of God. “We worship what we know” (Jn. 4:22). A Christian’s worship will never exceed his concept of God. Those with warped and paltry ideas of God soon become slack in their worship because they run out of reasons to praise the Lord. Inability to worship the God who is worth worshipping is frequently the result of a lack of “depth perception” into His being. In the words of J. B. Phillips, “your God is too small.”9 Sound theology, however, contributes to the development of wholesome concepts of God. Ministers dare not abdicate their theological responsibility to the worshipper, abandoning him to the formulation of his individual beliefs in an arena where popular, but inadequate or misconstrued, ideas germinate and flourish. If the pastor can assist his people in developing their comprehension of the greatness of our Lord and of His Christ, they will respond in spiritual growth and in their capacity to worship “in Spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24).

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Category: Fall 1998, Ministry, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Larry L. Taylor, M.A., D.Min., is Affiliate Faculty at Regis University in the Denver area and formerly professor of humanities at Portland Bible College. Larry Taylor founded a church in Colorado and has 17 years of pastoral experience.

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