The Importance of "Theological Information"

Recently, the following statement came to my attention: “The ultimate purpose of the Word of God is not theological information but heart and life transformation.” Such statements have become popular and appealing within certain segments of fundamentalism and evangelicalism. Interpreting and applying the Bible relevantly within modern culture is vital. However, modifiers such as “merely” or “exclusively” inserted between “not” and “theological information” would have clarified the issue we are considering. The Bible is not a book that is exclusively  intended to give us information about God or His purposes, but it does give us propositional truth—doctrinal expressions and teachings that are imperative for believers and non-believers. It is on such bedrock truths we are able to build lives that please and honor the Lord.

Such statements as the one above ignore extended texts that address the very purpose of Scripture. For example, Paul tells Timothy exactly what Scripture is as well as what God intends it to accomplish. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (that is, “God-breathed”) (2 Tim. 3:16). Therefore, we expect it to reveal certain necessary information (“doctrine”) about this God who gave this Word. Further, Scripture is intended to “make us wise unto salvation, which is through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:14, 15). Scripture establishes and informs man of his lost condition (Rom. 1:18-3:20) due to man’s sin. Scripture informs and instructs man of the only solution for his lost condition—faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16-17; 3:21-31; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Acts 4:12; 16:31; John 14:6). Apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work of redemption the cross, no one can be forgiven of sins, let alone have a transformed “heart and life.” It is critical that we know and embrace who this Person is, so that we can trust Him and what He has done for us.

Finally, Scripture tells us, as believers, how to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord (2 Peter 3:18). Returning to Paul’s comments to Timothy, God’s Word in its entirety shows Christians how to live in accord with God, as He has revealed such in His Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17). “Scripture” is what is “profitable,” to accomplish what is necessary for a “man of God” to grow to maturity. This is theology at a basic, rudimentary level. Doctrine, as it is revealed in Scripture, is the bedrock of our lives. Thus, because of the “theological information” revealed in Scripture, the Bible can and does change us, internally and externally, in thought and action.

Statements like “The ultimate purpose of the Word of God is not theological information but heart and life transformation” are man-centered, and illustrate so much of what caused the corruption and collapse of both evangelicalism and fundamentalism over the past 50 years. It makes the Bible appear to be little more than a self-help manual, designed exclusively for the happiness and prosperity of man as it pits theology against practice. Man has become the focal point of theological inquiry. According to this trite comment, embracing and implementing into daily life orthodox theology is no longer important or necessary for someone to become a member of a church or to serve as church leaders.  “Christianity” is now chiefly about man and what God may do to please man, to make us happy and “content” in this present world. It is little wonder that the church in Western culture has become so anemic and the social gospel has become such a domineering factor in both evangelical and fundamentalist circles.

Let us make much of “theological information” so that we can experience heart and life “transformation.” This is God’s plan for His church! —Gary Freel