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Review Essay, Keeping the Balance

Recognising the role of the Revealer (the Holy Spirit) Now that the question of personal knowledge has been broached, the illuminating role of the Spirit is considered. Cameron gives an illustration of a colour transparency, which must first be held to the light before the picture can be properly seen. Likewise, he explains, “It requires the action of the same Spirit who inspired the Scripture to illumine it, and in so doing to reveal the God behind it”. True, “it is by means of the activity of the intellect that knowledge of God is assimilated”, and we must not disparage what is “a supreme gift” from God. However, “theologians of all people most need the Spirit’s help”, shining through the words of Scripture and working within them, “opening their eyes and granting them the sight that is needed to interpret what they read”. An “unspiritual person” will invariably produce “a travesty of the knowledge of God”. Cameron also reminds us of the Spirit’s activity on the corporate level. “The Spirit also indwells the church, and since theology is a task for the church as well as the individual, we may expect to see the leading of the Spirit in the theological development of the church down the ages”. And “He is still leading the church onto fresh discovery, but always in the same Bible”.

Doing theological studies and doing theology proper Having explained the foundations for doing theology and outlined the method for proceeding, Cameron goes on to discuss how theological study is furthered—or potentially hindered, by engaging in theological studies. This is not merely a play on words. Doing academic theological studies at university may or may not serve the purposes of theology proper. Approach is everything. Theological students, who will be pouring over the thoughts of many theologians, must remember that “their object is not simply to learn the opinions of great and influential thinkers”, but to learn about God. “There need be no contradiction” in theological studies and theological study “if they bear their goal ever in mind”.

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Category: In Depth, Spring 2006

About the Author: W. Simpson, PhD (University of St. Andrews, Scotland), is a physicist and writer with an interest in theology, currently engaged in scientific research in the middle-east.

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