DOXOLOGY: THE GOAL OF THEOLOGY
STUDYING GOD IS NOT ONLY FOR MENTAL STIMULATION…
J.I Packer is quoted as saying, “Theology is for doxology and devotion—that is, the praise of God and the practice of godliness.”
Theology comes from the Greek word “Theos” which means God, to engage in theology is to study God or his nature. Doxology comes from the Greek word “Doxa” which means glory and specifically glory of God. What Packer means when he says, “theology is for doxology”is that the study of God exists so that we might glorify God. Theology is not a means unto itself, but a means unto the glory of God and our devotion to him.
GOD’S PASSION FOR THE GLORY OF GOD’S NAME
In the letter to the Ephesians Paul picks up on an idea that is found all throughout the bible, namely that the glory of God is the ultimate end to his works.
Paul writes in Ephesians 1:12 “In order that we, who were first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” And then again in v. 14 when talking about the Holy Spirit’s work,
“who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
Throughout the Old Testament God acts for his name’s sake. Isaiah says it very clearly.
“For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to destroy you completely. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.” (Isaiah 48:9-11 NIV)
God has a passionate desire to see his name glorified, his ultimate goal is to uphold and display the glory of his name. Jesus did that perfectly and is God’s perfect revelation (Hebrews 1:3 NIV) and God’s children are called live like him, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”(1 John 2:6 NIV)
So, as God reveals himself to us through the scriptures (theology) we discover a God who is passionate about his glory (doxology) and who calls us to that same passion for his glory.
OUR PASSION FOR THE GLORY OF GOD’S NAME
The amazing theology of the first 11 chapters of the letter to the Romans brings Paul to doxology. This is Paul’s response to the mercy that God offers all men. (Rom.11:32)
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Rom.11:33-36 NIV)
Paul’s response is a wonderful biblical example of theology for doxology, there was absolutely no doubting that Paul deeply understood and accepted God’s salvation in Jesus.
It’s clear to see that God is passionate about his own name sake i.e. his glory. His works of salvation display his glory and as his redeemed people we too should be passionate about his glory.
TWO DANGERS TO AVOID
All theology should ultimately lead to doxology. If theology doesn’t lead to doxology, then we’ve actually missed the point of theology.
If we have theology without doxology we have legalism, which fails to recognise God’s goodness – his true nature. Religion becomes more like a set of rules than a relationship with God.
But on the other hand, if we have doxology without theology, we will enter into idolatry. Uninformed worship is just a random expression of praise, disconnected to the truth of who God is. To glorify a god we don’t know, is to worship our own version of God – that’s idolatry.
As we read our bibles and engage in theology, we should respond as Paul did, “to Him be the glory forever! Amen.” God’s revelation of his nature should always result in praise and glory, to be more passionate about God’s glory is to be more like his son Jesus.
TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN
It’s not that the remedy for too much theology is more doxology or vice versa. We always need more theology and we always need more doxology – you can never have enough study of God and praise for him: God is concerned with both. They exist as opposite sides on the same coin, true theology always results in doxology and true doxology is always the result of true theology.
God is concerned with an accurate understanding of Him;And that accurate understanding of Him, leading to a response of praise, adoration and glory towards Him.
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendour is above the earth and the heavens.(Psalm 148:13 NIV)