The Disciplines of Knowing: Theology (3)
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.
All Your works shall praise You, O LORD,
And Your saints shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom,
And talk of Your power,
To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts,
And the glorious majesty of His kingdom. Psalm 145.5, 10-12
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1.20, 21
The second book of divine revelation
At various places in this study on growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, we have mentioned that creation is a powerful source of revelation. While Scripture is the primary light of divine revelation, creation is a secondary light, a reliable source of information about God, His attributes, and His will. God speaks to us through the book of creation, and because He does, we hope to find Him there, and should apply ourselves to seeing and hearing what He has to say.
As Paul observed, those who refuse to follow through with God’s revelation in creation will not give Him thanks, will become misguided in their thinking, and will find that their hearts become darkened, so that they are no longer interested in God or inclined to pursue knowing Him. Indeed, those who ignore the messages of God in creation – which continually praises Him and provokes His saints to bless and thank and declare His mighty acts – come under the displeasure of God, and grow continually more distant from Him (Rom. 1.22-32).
This second book of divine revelation is rich with insights into our Lord Jesus Christ. All who ignore God’s revelation of Himself there are “without excuse” before Him. We who know the Lord must not neglect this area of pursuit. Rather, let us listen to the psalmist, who insists that we will need to “meditate” on the revelation of God in creation; and meditation takes time, and a disciplined approach to seeking the Lord in His works.
This theological discipline is referred to as creational theology.
In the work of creational theology we are simply pursuing the knowledge of God through the works of creation. These include all the works of creation – the natural world, culture and cultures, and the workings of the human soul (mind, heart, conscience). Even those who do not believe in God understand that the world and its creatures and cultures are a rich source of information to help us in various ways. The disciplines of the humanities and sciences are designed to mine these works of God for as much as we can learn, to improve our lives in the here and now.
We can benefit from such studies; however, if we want these studies to help us in knowing, loving, and serving the Lord Jesus Christ, we’ll have to put on our Biblical and creational theology goggles as we go into the arena and lab of the humanities and science studies.
In creational theology, we focus on the works of God. Paul could see the work of God in the daily grind of agriculture (Acts 14.17) and the lofty speculations of unbelieving philosophers and poets (Acts 17.27, 28). Jesus pointed to such everyday aspects of creation as birds, seeds, gardens, coins, trees, human relationships, and more to draw out valuable lessons concerning His Kingdom. Think how impoverished our understanding of the Gospel would be without the parables of Jesus!
Jesus and Paul were simply doing creational theology, just as you and I can do. But we will need to make the time for it, and learn to practice meditation – waiting on the Lord, pondering His works, asking questions about what we see, and listening for any insights from the Spirit.
Doing creational theology
It’s good to have something to write on – either some note cards, a small journal, or a note-taking app in your phone – as you begin to read and observe the works of God for what they can teach you about Jesus. A few basic steps in this meditative process can get you started in a richly rewarding new discipline for knowing the Lord.
First, choose something to observe. It can be anything – a songbird, favorite tree, painting, tool, item of food, musical composition, anything. God is in it all. Look or listen carefully, making notes of what you see or hear. Jot down everything that comes to mind, even if it seems inconsequential, and don’t try to be too philosophical or spiritual at this point. Just make note of everything that is unique and interesting about the object you have chosen to observe.
Then, ask yourself: Does this remind me of anything in Scripture? Does an object like this appear in Scripture? If so, in what context? Does something about its use or its function lead you to think about anything in the Word? Try to associate your observations with Scripture, and especially as you are able to connect that Scripture with Jesus.
As you do this, integrate your observations from the creation with the Scriptures they suggest. Try making a sentence that connects the two, or show how the one illustrates, explains, or uses the other. Do some additional writing at this point, to help in clarifying your thoughts
Then, meditate for an extended period on the work you’ve done thus far. Let your meditations extend through several sessions, even spread out over a few days, if necessary. Ask additional questions. Consider what you might learn about Jesus from this object. This simmering of the work you’ve done thus far will yield rich aromas of revelation for you to delight in as you contemplate Jesus, Who is Lord over all.
As you meditate, celebrate in prayer or singing what God is showing you about Him. Then, look for some way to proclaim His works – an email to a friend, sharing at dinner, a poem or drawing, anything that will help you to declare to others what God has shown you, and what has led you to give Him thanks and praise.
Adding some time for creational theology as you pursue growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ will enrich your vision of Him, heighten your awareness of His presence, and expand the horizons of your praise, thanks, and witness. Isn’t it worth all that to make the investment necessary to open wide this window of revelation on the glory of our Lord Jesus?
1. Are you willing to take the time to introduce creational theology into your pursuit of God? Where will you begin?
2. What will you have to give up to make room for creational theology in your daily life? How can you use your time better for this exercise?
3. How can you see that doing creational theology can enhance your worship and improve your witness for Christ?
Next steps – Transformation: Look around you right now. Find an object to contemplate for a day or two. Get started, using that object, in the work of creational theology. Carry this exercise all the way through to the end.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- T.M. Moore
- January 3, 2020
Let's look through the second window of theological studies.
The Disciplines of Knowing: Theology (3)