Theologian of the Heart
I’ve been reading Andrew Naselli’s blog since I first heard about Keswick Theology and began researching it. I still haven’t read Naselli’s book about the Keswicks, but it’s on my to read list. In the meantime, his blog has provided great little morsels of insight, history, and theological wisdom.
Naselli blogged recently about BB Warfield, one of the older theologians of the faith. I was hooked when I read this teaser sentence penned by Naselli:
Pitting doctrine against devotion is a false dichotomy because God intends them to go together. They are not mutually exclusive; one without the other is incomplete.
Of that, I can only say an impassioned AMEN. It is my conviction by the Holy Spirit that theology determines biography. What you believe determines how you live your life. If you find your life living without passion for God, there is something wrong with your theology. If you struggle with sin and find no hope of sanctification, there is something wrong with your theology. If you live in the light of the cross but under the threat of law constantly, there is something wrong with your theology. If you believe that your ways are the only right ways, there is something wrong with your theology. If your grief for your sin causes you to forget that you have been saved by grace and now under no condemnation, there is something wrong with theology.
Theology is critically, vitally important. I’ll admit I often place theology at a pedestal higher than it should be, similar to those who worship the Bible exclusively or those who worship the Spirit exclusively. Yet you can’t live your Christian life without forming some idea of what God is, and more often than not we will be wrong. Criticizing the theology of others comes out of a religious spirit; but, it’s a gift of the Spirit to be discerning and not overly critical. The pendelum swing cannot go all of one way. And in this modern day and age where we have moved more or less into a post-Protestant setting amongst my generation, Protestantism being formed out of a concern for the Bible, truth, and doctrine, the need for voices strong in theology is more important than ever.
That’s why I really like this label – “theologian of the heart.” It stresses the importance of both theology and love, but also how that theology is important because of its implications for the heart/love. It’s not willing to err on the side of heresy, because that wouldn’t be loving; but it also isn’t willing to err on the side of love, because that can lead to lawlessness. It’s a tight fine line, one that we all aim for, many will fall short of one day and be on point the next; such is sanctification.
And unless your theology gets corrupted, you then won’t lose sight of your justification.
Naselli included this amazing quote from Fred G. Zaspel’s “The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary”.
He will surrender neither doctrine nor experience. There is no genuinely Christian experience apart from truth, and it is this depth of Christian experience that characterizes Warfield throughout his writings. If he argues for an inerrant Bible, it is to find in it certain truth about the God whom we can trust. If he explores the mysteries of the Trinity, it is to deepen worship. If he argues for the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, he finds in it cause for praise and comfort and assurance. If he argues for a clear understanding of the two natures of Christ, it is to rest in a uniquely qualified Redeemer and to know and glory in the greatness of his condescending love; only an informed reflection on the redeeming grace of the incarnation “more ardently kindles the affection of faith.” If he argues against Pelagian and Arminian and for Calvinistic views of humanity and salvation, it is to heighten our sense of dependence upon and appreciation for divine grace and thereby cultivate piety that is distinctly and thoroughly Christian. If he argues for justification by faith, it is because in no other place can the conscience find rest and be at peace with God and enjoy fellowship with him. When he reads the narrative of Jesus’ trials, he highlights not simply the evil of humanity as displayed in Pilate, the priests, and the mob; rather, he adores the contrasting perfections of the One they condemn. For Warfield the academic study of Scripture is to be not only a means to minister to others but also “a religious exercise out of which you draw every day enlargement of heart, elevation of spirit, and adoring delight in your Maker and your Savior.” . . .
He was, in his heart of hearts, a sinner rescued by divine grace, and it is this consideration that seems to have driven both his devotional life and his polemic endeavors. (pp. 569–70)