Tomany, the study of theology is considered irrelevant, boring, andcomplex. Nonetheless, for those that truly want to know God, thestudy of theology is mandatory. So what precisely does the word“theology” mean? Theology is a word that comes from two Greekwords: theos(God) and logos(word). Combined, this word is used to refer to “the study ofGod.”1The study of theology is an effort to know God as He reveals himselfin the Bible so as to make accurate, coherent, and relevantstatements about God and His nature. Intrinsically, Biblicaldoctrines equip Christians with the power to fulfill their primarypurpose which is to glorify God through an in-depth knowledge ofHim.
Fromthis viewpoint, the practicality of a healthy and meaningfulrelationship with God is highly dependent on accurate knowledge ofHim. The capacity to enjoy, love, and tell others about the goodnessof another individual is fortified by greater knowledge of thatindividual. To tell others about the goodness of God, one has tofirst of all get to know Him2.In the book of Exodus 3:14, when Moses queries who is sending him toPharaoh, God says: “I am who I am.” This is a clear indication ofthe fact that God has a personality. Therefore, the study of theologyis nothing more than delving deeper into the word of God to unearthwhat He has revealed about Himself. This paper clarifies how athorough understanding of systematic theological doctrines answersthe question posed by postmodernism on the existence and nature ofGod. To begin, this paper will shed light on a pop culturist’sviewpoint on the existence and nature of God.
POSTMODERNISMON EXISTENCE OF GOD
Basically,postmodernism is a phenomenon of the emerging Western culture becauseone cannot talk of the term “postmodern” without referring tomodernism. Pop culture is a movement that has risen in response tothe modernization of the Western civilization. As such, thecontemporary perception of the world is within the context of theWestern culture. At the same time, it is part of the changes takingplace in the contemporary world3.From this perspective, the postmodern way of viewing the universe isthat it is in a period of constant transition. Therefore, newspiritual movements are coming into existence. Deviating fromconventional theological practices, this new form of religious systemlays emphasis on the power of science (metaphysics), theinevitability of progress, and the unquestioned rights of anindividual4.
Thisform of emergent religious system is a non-dogmatic approach toChristianity where spiritual schools of thought are highly dependenton an individual’s worldview rather than a universal system oftruths5.In this framework, one of the core principles is the rejection ofglobal metanarratives like the global metanarrative about theexistence of God. In the eyes of a pop culturist, theology is not a“once for all time” knowledge or principle that can be studied6.This implies that in this system, sacred texts like the Bible areobsolete. Thus, God does not exist as there is no scientific proof ofHis existence. To them, the Bible has no authority because it speaksof a “God” who has never been seen. It is on these grounds thatthis emerging religious system queries the existence and nature ofGod. In the following section, this paper explains how a thoroughunderstanding of systematic theological doctrines answers thisquestion as posed by modern culture and postmodern theologians.
Asit is unanimously recognized, the Bible is the sole “reference”point for Christians worldwide. In total, the Bible has 66 bookswith 27 in the New Testament and 39 in the Old Testament. Sinceknowing God is the very first step to becoming Godly, Christiansoften devote themselves to learning what God hates, loves, thinks,encourages, and how He acts by studying what the Bible documentsabout Him (theology)7.Good theology is centered on the acceptance of the fact that God isreal, can be known, and has revealed Himself in various doctrines(themes) of the Bible. Spread across the 66 books of the Bible, aremajor themes (doctrines) of Christian faith. For instance, the 66books of the Bible document different theological topics like (butnot limited to) sin, salvation, God, the Holy Spirit, afterlife,angels, end times, and the church. However, there is no single bookthat gives all the information about the church. No single book inthe Bible is focused on all the details on the Holy Spirit.Systematic theology gathers all the pieces information about angelsfrom all the Biblical books and classifies them into a theologicalsystem known as Angelology8.Systematic theology is, therefore, all about organizing Biblicaldoctrines (themes) into categorical systems that can be independentlystudied for in-depth comprehension. The main goal of systematic(dogmatic/constructive) theology is to clearly draw a depiction ofwhat the Bible explains about a specific theological doctrine.
Tosuitably answer the question of God’s existence as posed by popculture, thorough understanding of interconnected systematictheological doctrines is indispensable. Bearing in mind thatpostmodernism does not acknowledge the existence of a supreme being,thorough understanding of the doctrines that describe all the detailsto do with God’s being will be supportive in answering thisquestion. Theologyproper/Paterologyis the study of the doctrines that document all the particulars aboutGod9.In the books of Mathew 28:19, John 10:30, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Matthew3:16-17, among many other books, it is documented that God exists intrinity. God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is theonly being that exists concurrently in three persons. All these threedeities comprise the only God and without one there is basically noGod! Considering that God the Father exists in three deities, itwould be reasonable to answer a pop culturist question on Hisexistence by clarifying all the three states He reveals Himself10.Thorough knowledge of the systematic Christology,which is the study of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, will beuseful in answering a pop culturist’s query on God’s existence11.Also, extensive knowledge on Pneumatology,which is the study of the Holy Spirit, will be of great assistance inexplaining to a postmodernist theologian about God’s deities12.In the book of 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, the Bible speaks of how God andthe Holy Spirit are the one.
Whileresponding to a postmodernist’s query on the existence of God, itis worthwhile to do more than just prove His Biblical certainty. In abrief revisit of Paterology,the Bible teaches the nature of God. He is truthful (Psalms 117:2),loving (1 John 4:8-16), forgiving (Isaiah 43:14-16), holy(Revelations 4:8), omniscient (1 John 3:20), and eternal (Isaiah57:15). Above and beyond proving the existence of God, it is vital tohighlight on His nature because it is through understanding Hisnature that some of the Christian doctrines like salvation emerge13.As documented in Isaiah 43, God is a forgiving God. This explains whyHe sacrificed His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross so thatmankind can receive salvation and be free of transgressions. Thestudy of salvation is what theologians refer to as Soteriology14.Since the process of receiving salvation involves the church, then itwill also be important to have extensive knowledge on the study ofthe church and its efforts in spreading the word of God with the aimof delivering salvation to the souls of mankind. The study of thechurch is known as Ecclesiology15.The acceptance of God’s doctrines (salvation) is preparation forthe coming of God, also known as “end times.” And so, extensiveknowledge on the end times is also crucial in explaining to apostmodernist theologian about the nature, existence, andrelationship of God with humanity. Eschatologyis the theological term used to refer to the study of end times16.
Systematictheology has implications when it comes to interpreting and preachingscripture. Systematic theology is all about organizing Biblicaldoctrines (themes) into categorical systems that can be studiedindependently for in-depth comprehension. The systematic division ofthe doctrines of the Bible into different scopes of theology has madeit easier for individuals to autonomously study each and every scopeof theology. Therefore, exhaustive and comprehensive understanding ofeach independent realm of the systematic theological doctrines helpswhen answering the pop culturist question on the existence and natureof God. For instance, a Christian with extensive knowledge onPaterology,Christology,and Pneumatologywill be in a position to answer questions on the existence and natureof God. Additionally, a Christian can suitably answer a popculturist’s query on the nature and existence of God when armedwith extensive knowledge on Soteriology,Ecclesiology,and Eschatology.By internalizing all these systematically organized theologicaldoctrines (teachings of the Bible), a pop culturist can ultimatelyunderstand why there is a global metanarrative about the existence ofa supreme being. The systematic division of theology into sub-systemsorganizes the teachings of the Bible into categorical systems makingit easier for someone to study and preach the word of God. Hence, athorough understanding of each of these systematically organizedtheological doctrines is important in answering the question posed bypostmodernism on the existence and nature of God.
Adams,Daniel. "Postmodernism." Toward a Theological Understandingof Postmodernism, by Daniel J. Adams. 2014. Accessed August 26, 2016.http://www.crosscurrents.org/adams.htm.
Crossway."What Is Theology?" Crossway Blog. 2015. Accessed August26, 2016. https://www.crossway.org/blog/2015/12/what-is-theology/.
Garrett,James Leo Jr. SystematicTheology: Biblical, Historical, and Evangelical.Place of Publication Not Identified: Wipf & Stock Publishers,2014.
GotQuestions.“Systematic Theology.” GotQuestions.org. 2015. Accessed August26, 2016. http://www.gotquestions.org/systematic-theology.html.
Kuzniarz,Bartosz. "Understanding Theology And Postmodernism." 2015.Accessed August 26, 2016. Doi: 10.3726/978-3-653-02383-1.
McClendon,James William. SystematicTheology.Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2012.
Smith,Nicholas. Postmodernism,Literature and the Future of Theology.Place of Publication Not Identified: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
1 Crossway. "What Is Theology?" https://www.crossway.org/blog/2015/12/what-is-theology/. Accessed August 26, 2016.
3 Smith, Nicholas. Postmodernism, Literature and the Future of Theology. Place of Publication Not Identified: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
5 Adams, Daniel. "Postmodernism.". 2014. http://www.crosscurrents.org/adams.htm. Accessed August 26, 2016.
7 Garrett, James Leo Jr. Systematic Theology: Biblical, Historical, and Evangelical. Place of Publication Not Identified: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2014.
8 McClendon, James William. Systematic Theology. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2012.
9 GotQuestions. “Systematic Theology.” GotQuestions.org. 2015. Accessed August 26, 2016. http://www.gotquestions.org/systematic-theology.html.
11 Kuzniarz, Bartosz. "Understanding Theology And Postmodernism." 2015. Accessed August 26, 2016. Doi: 10.3726/978-3-653-02383-1.
13 Smith, Nicholas. Postmodernism, Literature and the Future of Theology. Place of Publication Not Identified: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
14 McClendon, James William. Systematic Theology. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2012.
15 Garrett, James Leo Jr. Systematic Theology: Biblical, Historical, and Evangelical. Place of Publication Not Identified: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2014.