The book begins with a rather lengthy quote from Charles Hadden Spurgeon. A wonderful quote which I will not reproduce here for the sake of time exhorted and encouraged me about the nature of Theology, the study of the divine. First, it humbles the mind. Spurgeon writes:
But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumbline cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought that vain main would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with solemn exclamation, “I am but yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God…Second, theology enlarges the mind. Again Spurgeon helps us:Quoted in JI Packer, Knowing God, Americanized Edition (Downers Grove: IL, Intervarsity Press, 1993) 18.
Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity.Finally, not only does theology both humble the mind and set the mind ablaze, the contemplation of Christ is also a balm for every wound and speaks peace to the winds of trial. The study of God, who He is, who I am in light of Him, the purpose and nature of my life in reference to the will of God for the Universe – such is the content of Theology, such is central to human existence. Packer writes that one disregards God and Theology at our own peril. The neglecting thereof, results in what he calls the wasting of life and the loss of one’s soul:Ibid. 18.
Disregard the study of God and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and loose your soul.After laying out five foundational areas of study for theology ( God speaking in his word, God as Lord and King over all, God as Savior in Jesus Christ, God as triune, Godliness as response in obedience and faith to God’s revelation), speaking of basic themes in the study of God (his noncommunicable attributes, his powers, perfections) he moves on to close the chapter by warning those who will study such lofty and glorious things not to allow such knowledge to puff us up with arrogance. The chapter closes with a great explanation of what it means for one to meditate on the truth about God in relationship with and in humble submission before God Himself. Christian Meditation, lost in today’s busy and buzzing world of church programs and bottom shelf faith, is described with great clarity in the finals words of this chapter:Packer, 19.
Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means to communion with God. Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let his truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself about God and oneself; it is, indeed, often a matter of arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God’s power and grace.And with that – I just say Amen! Oh, if more of our counselors and psychologists would prescribe more of the like. --------Packer, 23.