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compass of the pilgrim



Michael Horton writes the following in his chapter "Why Study Theology?" found in Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples (Zondervan, 2013)  I took the liberty to make a graphic to help me remember this.

As we shall see, the theology of the Bible leads us away from the high places of the religious, the moral, and the spiritual specialists. It keeps our boots firmly on the ground. Instead of ascending to spiritual heights, we meet God in his gracious descent to us.  Like the directions on a compass, there are four coordinates that guide us in our journey to know God: 
  • Drama
  • Doctrine
  • Doxology
  • Discipleship
All of our faith and practice arise out of the drama of Scripture, the “big story” that traces the plot of history from creation to consummation, with Christ as its Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. And out of the throbbing verbs of this unfolding drama God reveals stable nouns — doctrines. From what God does in history we are taught certain things about who he is and what it means to be created in his image, fallen, and redeemed, renewed, and glorified in union with Christ. As the Father creates his church, in his Son and by his Spirit, we come to realize what this covenant community is and what it means to belong to it; what kind of future is promised to us in Christ, and how we are to live here and now in the light of it all. The drama and the doctrine provoke us to praise and worship — doxology — and together these three coordinates give us a new way of living in the world as disciples

Unlike the directions on a common compass, all of these coordinates are engaged simultaneously. We do not begin our journey in the direction of the drama, then move on to the doctrine and doxology and finally arrive at discipleship. Often, as we will see later, doctrinal gold is discovered in Scripture’s rich veins of prayer and praise. 

Doctrines like the Trinity did not emerge out of ivory-tower theorizing, but out of the worship of Jewish Christians who acknowledge one God yet were baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and gave praise to each of them as a distinct person of the one God. At no point was doctrine conceived merely as an intellectual enterprise. In Scripture and in the best of church history, doctrinal reflection has maintained a deeply integrated connection with the biblical narrative, the desire of the heart, and the engagement of the will and the body in worship and life. 

The Bible knows nothing of any contrast between truth and experience, head and heart, theology and practical living. 

(Michael Horton, Pilgrim Theology)

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