Chapter A10, “Theology as Doctrine”
Pieper has discussed theology in the subjective sense of the aptitude for teaching. now he discusses the objective sense of theology. What is this? theology in this objective sense is Scripture arranged by topic, or doctrine. Here the work of the theologian is to collate and explain what is in the Bible according to topic or concept. Counter to modern theology, the claims of the Bible govern our theology. Though in all times some have suggested going beyond the Bible and trusting enlightened human reason, this is not the pattern found in Scripture or in sound historical practice. To mediate theology by the opinion of the theologian is to overrule God. It is only through the powerful Word of God that we receive faith and life. Pieper details five elements in popular theology which detract from biblical faith.
1) Experience takes precedence over Scripture. This cannot be, as we need to understand our experience through Scripture.
2) Doctrine is based on faith or our consciousness of faith. This will fail because different people have different perceptions. Only God’s Word is reliable.
3) The new man, the regenerate, serves as the source of doctrine. This suggests that the new, regenerate, man is more spiritually capable than God.
4) The message of Scripture matters, not the words. But without words the message is unintelligible.
5) Christian doctrine is rightly a practice of history. Yet doctrine is not history and history is not doctrine. Pieper concludes that theology is rightly built only on the Word of God. Then and only then is it reliable and powerful to change and preserve life. The theologian therefore depends firmly on God’s Word.