Vol.X No.V Pg.2
July 1973

"Digging Theology"

Robert F. Turner

We (my fellow-preachers and I) are not theologians— and no apology is due for that. We are not professional men; and although I have long urged those who would preach to train themselves in every facet of their chosen work, many are doing an admirable job without benefit of special training in historic theology. But their lack of familiarity with classic schools of thought, and their lack of a historic sense of theology leads some to accept the theories of commentaries and contemporary religious writers without realizing that they are nibbling at the bait of a weathered theological trap.

In earlier days the ever-present battle with denominationalists, with formal and not-so-formal debates, served to keep preachers informed in the basic tenets of various faiths, and in answering their arguments we developed a theology of scriptural answers, even though they were not so methodically formulated. Perhaps some were reaction answers, but the earlier contenders for the faith saw the trap and had sense enough to react. Today many are wide open for an invasion of neo-Calvinism —and some not so neo —because they do not know the background or the consequences of the arguments they are making. This is especially true in studies on Grace and Holy Spirit. A favorite sermon topic of years past was, Is the Gospel God Gave Suited to the Man God Made? Answering Yes, the preacher discussed the nature of man: a free-agent, capable of understanding Gods word, of coming to God, and held individually accountable for his response to the Lords invitation. He knew, and pointedly explained that this was in contrast to the popular theology which taught that genuine free-agency on the part of man was contrary to the sovereignty of God, and that Adams sin was inherited by all men, so that man was incapable of understanding Gods word and coming to a saving faith, except as Gods Spirit acted directly upon selected individuals, removed their depravity, and brought them to a salvation they could not then lose. (Oh yes, it took more than fifteen minutes to preach this.)

Is all this irrelevant today? The words have changed somewhat, and there are few formal discussions on these topics, but the basic errors are deeply ingrained in modern theology, experiential religion, direct indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and some of the new (among us) concepts of grace. So, dont be surprised if we publish some studies in moss-covered theology, with application for today.