April 25, 2005
Integrative Theology I
"Introduction to the World"
The moment that I gave my life to Christ I knew that my life had changed and had been impacted. As I knelt at that altar and asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins, I was amazed to realize the peace and joy that was available to me even after a lifetime of sin and running from God. Amazingly one prayer had wiped out all those years and put me on the course to live righteously and prepare to discover and live out the calling that God had for my life.
There has been nothing like it since, and it is so easy to look back at that moment and remember how great it felt to have such a heavy weight come off of me. I was so excited to go and tell others about the joy I had found! I was ready to take what I knew, combine it with the boldness I felt at that time and go and tell others about the greatest gift a man or woman can receive.
It wasn't long however before I found out that this free gift of forgiveness was not the easiest gift for others to receive. As I told family and friends about Jesus I was immediately tossed into arguments refuting for believing that Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6).
In the process I also found out that the doctrine and beliefs that I heard in my church were not always the same in other churches. One church believed in healing, one didn't. One believed in being filled with the Holy Spirit while another had no idea what you were talking about. It was clear that if I was going to become everything Jesus wanted me to be, I would need to be able "to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15).
Since "a coherent world view and way of life provides a necessary context for our ethical decision making in general" (Lewis 21), I understood that I had to know what I believed as well as why I believed it. I especially needed to be sure my beliefs were solid in my heart so that I could live my life by them. It is so easy for world views to change, so I knew that the people I ministered to needed to see a solid view about Christ as well as every other area of my life.
This whole process is what every believer needs to take to bring them to the mature life that Christ intended. Not every individual that a believer runs across will see it the same way as he or she does, but the unsaved as well as the saved must see a life that has researched all the different elements and with diligent prayer, study of the Word and seeking God, move to a world view that is the most practical and filled with the least complications. The mature Christian will be the one that does this and as they live this life, will become more able to walk in the freedom that Christ has given them.
While there are many approaches to theology a believer can use to better understand his or her relationship with God, the integrative process makes a great deal of sense. Integrative theology utilizes a distinctive verification method of decision making as it defines a major topic, surveys influential alternative answers in the church, amasses relevant biblical data in their chronological development, formulates a comprehensive conclusion, defends it against compelling alternatives, and exhibits its relevance for life and ministry (Lewis 25).
This type of theology gives the student an opportunity to not only look at the final authority, the Word of God, but also gives the chance to look at church history, as well as a way of presenting the experience or creating a compelling argument after backing of the viewpoint against so many other contrary opinions. There are five steps to doing theology the integrative way.
Once an individual has a problem or question to solve, the theologian looks at the problem from several different views. This scholar looks at the historical viewpoint to see what the church has said over the centuries in reference to the...