Theology is the study of God. There are some basic theological issues about God that show us that there is a God. There are ways that one is to speak about God. In addition to all of this, there are reasons why Trinitarian thought (the concept of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) is important to understanding God.
Gilbert W. Stafford discusses in his book “Theology for Disciples” the basis of the ontological argument. This was set forth by Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) arguing the nature of being itself. Stafford states; “God is that beyond which nothing greater can be conceived. Since to exist is greater than non-existence, God must exist; otherwise, God would not be that beyond which nothing greater can be conceived.” This is backed up by the cosmological argument presented by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), arguing the basis of causation. Stafford states; “Since everything must have a sufficient cause in order to exist and since the world does not possess within itself any causation sufficient to explain the existence of the whole, there must be, then, a sufficient cause beyond the world that brought it into existence, namely God.” Another argument that proves the existence of God is called the teleological argument. This argues that nature has “design and purpose, and therefore must have a designer, i.e., God.” (Stafford, G., 1996) Finally, there is the moral approach, presented by Immanuel Kane (1724-1804). This argues on the “basis of an apparent universality of a sense of obligation to others, which points to a source of ought common to all.” (Stafford, G., 1996) This is where we find judgment and the treatment of others. This points to Matthew 7:1-2 (NET) which states; “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.” All of these arguments back up the fact that God does exist.
Knowing that God exists, we must know how to speak of the Biblical God. Stafford speaks about this is “Theology for Disciples”. Stafford discusses three ways to speak of the Biblical God. (1) God initiates conversation and calls us to communion. Stafford states that “according to Genesis, we were created to be respondents to God. God initiates; we respond.” Stafford goes into detail on Adam and the facts that shows Adam and Eve conversing with the serpent and that the first conversation should have been initiated and with God. This is considered to be the great tragedy in many theologies. (2) God comes to where we are and calls us to faith. This is based on those who hear the Call of God to act on His Call as Abraham and Moses both did. These people, and all people, must respond with trust and obedience to God. (3) God takes us by surprise and calls us to mission. We will never know when God calls us. We work on His calendar, and not on our own. Moses was caught by surprise. This is discussed in Exodus 3 (NET). It states in 3:1-2; “Now Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to the mountain of God, to Horeb. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from within a bush. He looked and the bush was ablaze with fire, but it was not being consumed!” Moses was not expecting this. He was surprised and in awe of the Glory of God.
God’s Glory will never be fully understood by man; nor should it. The Trinity is important though in understanding God. This is the thought of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Stafford discusses this in Theology for Disciples. He states; “The Trinitarian God is the eternal God who was as truly Trinitarian in the Old Testament as in the incarnation and at Pentecost.” This discusses the Father of the Old Testament, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit who lives within us all. Stafford discusses five reasons why Trinitarian thought is so important. (1) Trinitarian thought is faithful to the witness of the Bible, which presents us with one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. (2) Trinitarian thought upholds the glory of the incarnation. Stafford states “In Jesus of Nazareth, nothing is less than very God of very God dwelt among us.” This refers to the fact that Jesus Christ is God incarnate who came to Earth to die for our sins. (3) Trinitarian thought opens up the truth that the eternal God is capable of suffering. This is in reference to Jesus Christ and His death on the cross at Calvary. (4) Trinitarian thought confesses the church’s experience that the God of the Old Testament both revealed God in Jesus of Nazareth and continues to abide with us in the person of the Holy Spirit. This brings us to the power of prayer in the name of the Father, the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. (5) Trinitarian thought maintains unity with the church’s long intellectual history of reflecting on the faith, analyzing it and defending it against ideas about God which are contrary to the biblical revelation. This refers to the fact that if a church abandons Trinitarian thought, it abandons scripture. This goes back to Genesis 1:26 (NET) which states; “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.” Notice the “our” used in this piece of scripture. All Trinitarian thought comes back to Genesis. (Stafford, G., 1996)
In summary, when considering Theology, the study of God, always consider the arguments that back up the fact that there is a God. Respect the calling of God to man and the ways one is to speak of the Biblical God, and always remember the Trinity.