How To Think About And Practice Theology -- By: David Mappes

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 18:1 (Spring 2014)
Article: How To Think About And Practice Theology
Author: David Mappes

How To Think About And Practice Theology

David Mappes

Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
and Bible Exposition
Baptist Bible Seminary
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania


The Bible is the single most important book ever written since it is God’s word through human penmen, not simply a word about God. God has taken the initiative to intelligently and verbally disclose himself and his will to humanity. The epithet describing believers as “people of the book” is well known as is the famous statement by Patrick Henry who mused that the Bible is worth more than all the other books ever printed.

Conservative evangelical believers (or historical fundamentalists) adhere to verbal inspiration, factual inerrancy, and sufficiency of Scripture and to a conservative framework of hermeneutics (theory of interpretation). The Bible possesses the authority and clarity to tell mankind what to believe and how to live. Believers are responsible to live day-to-day seeking to understand and appropriate God’s grace and truth into their lives so as to walk humbly and blamelessly before God. This article overviews how each believer can interpret the Bible and practice theology. In light of inroads of pluralism, the current theological haze, and relentless attacks on the nature, knowability, and authority, of God’s word each believer needs to carefully interpret the Scripture and practice theology.

How To Think About Scripture And Truth

The Scripture attests to its own identity and truthfulness as God’s word and to its own knowability.1 This identity is a form of Scriptural foundationalism. Scriptural foundationalism should not be confused with enlightenment foundationalism that allegedly leads to a complete neutral, comprehensive, indubitable, objective knowledge, resulting in the impossibility of doubt (i.e., what is alleged as Cartesian foundationalism). Rather, Scriptural foundationalism asserts the presence of objective truth grounded in Scripture, which is the most basic foundation for a belief system. Scriptural foundationalism recognizes that while truth is ultimately personal since it is sourced in the Triune God himself, God nonetheless reveals his truth in Scripture in clear propositional revelation. A proposition is generally understood as the meaning of what is true or false as expressed in a declarative type statement. Propositional revelation asserts that revelation discloses truth in a cognitive manner that is not reducible to personal experience or personal perspective. In other words, propositional revelation is timeless and not limited, reducible, nor defined or affected...

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