“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (Exo 20:4 ESV)
Very early on in the church there was a man names Marcion. Marcion did not like the image of God depicted in the Old Testament. For him the image of God in the Old Testament was too harsh, wrathful, and angry! On the other hand, Marcion did like the image of God in the New Testament. Generally speaking, for him the image of God in the New Testament was gentle, loving, and merciful! The early church leaders took Marcion to task by affirming God as He really is, over-and-against Marcion and his followers who wanted a God based upon their own desires.
Mark Dever shares a similar story when he was in seminary. A fellow student (named Bill) said that he liked to think of God as “wise, but not meddling; compassionate, but never overpowering; resourceful, but never interrupting.” Dever responded by saying, “Thank you Bill for telling us so much about yourself, but we are concerned to know what God is really like, not simply about our own desires.”
What Marcion and Bill (and the penchant of all human beings) have in common is that they have created an image in their minds about God. The problem with this is that if the image does not correspond to reality then we are worshiping an image of God, not God! This is the essence of idolatry. Idolatry is literally idol worship. Idols can be literally carved images or images in our minds. But either way when our idea or concept or image of God does not correspond to the reality of what or who God is…then we are violating the second Commandment in Exodus 2:4!
This is why the Bible is so important and why biblical theology is so important! The Bible is God’s self-disclosure! Biblical theology is teaching gleaned from the Word of God. This is why, as Mark Dever notes, the 2nd mark (among his 9 Marks) of a healthy church is Biblical Theology.
Biblical theology teaches us that the God of the Bible is the Creator and Sovereign ruler over everything. The universe is not eternal! The universe did not create itself! These are pagan ideas (not to say irrational and bad science and philosophy)! And because God is Creator and Sovereign, we and everything else are His creation! We all live and move and have our being in God! This means among other things, that all human beings are accountable to God. An implication for the church is that everything we do will be held accountable to God. A church which really believes and lives out these doctrines will seek to be transparent, open, and honest. Such a church will always seek to do what is right no matter the cost! Church leaders will confront problems before they get out of hand!
Biblical theology also teaches that the God of the Bible is faithful and loving. This means that though God will hold us accountable, He is still longsuffering, patient, and gentle! A church which really believes and lives out these doctrines will also be gentle, patient, and longsuffering. Church members will seek to be peace makers, not trouble makers, walking around with a chip on his or her shoulder. Love and restoration will be some of the marks of a church because God is faithful when we have been faithless, loving when we have been unloving!
A truthful, and transparent, and honest church, as well as, a loving, and patient, and gentle church will be some of the marks of a healthy church. Biblical theology will help rid us of our idols so as to help us to be a more healthy church, a church that lives, and moves, and has its being in God!
Soli Deo Gloria