Recently I picked up a book on the subject of Islam and began examining the covers. In a summary statement on the back, it declared that this book “was a completely objective look at Islam, from a Christian point of view”! Apparently the editors of this book missed the irony: Books about any subject, examined from a particular point of view, are never objective . They may be very worthwhile books, and they may even be true, but they are not objective.
Even within Christianity we are often faced with the same problem. You don’t have to be a long-time believer to realize that within your own denomination, within your own church, and even within your study and prayer groups, people are going to disagree about certain matters. They may be somewhat arcane disputes, perhaps over the extent of the Atonement, or differences may arise over relatively commonplace issues, such as the mode of baptism or which activities are permissible on Sundays.
Why can’t we all just read the Bible, believe, and do what it says? Unfortunately, too many of us believe that we are the only ones doing that very thing! It’s those “ other people” who refuse to see the plain truth of Scripture! The trouble is that they are saying the same thing about us.
Disputes like these discourage many from making a serious study of theology. If people disagree on so much about Christianity, is it possible for us to know anything ? And many of those outside the Church see this as an excuse not to believe at all.
Fortunately, the state of Christian theology is not really that bad. In fact, with a little effort we can distinguish Christian theology from non-Christian theology with relative ease. We can also investigate how various traditions within the church shaped Christian theology as we know it today. And we can look at a specific tradition, the Reformed Tradition, to learn its basic tenets. This last examination is especially important because the Reformed tradition is the basis for these Lessons.
Dr. Richard L. Pratt, Jr.
Accordingly, this Lesson will be divided into three major sections:
The work for this lesson will follow the same pattern as Lesson 1.
In preparation for this lesson, read Acts 17:16-34. Write down what this has to teach us about dialoguing with people from other religions. How did Paul show respect to the Athenians? How was he assertive in explaining the gospel and the true God?
Goals and Objectives of Lesson 2
In this lesson, we would like to accomplish the following:
1. We hope you will become more interested in understanding and defining your own theological tradition, as well as dialoguing respectfully with those from other traditions.
2. We hope you will make use of all the resources and activities of the lesson to learn to distinguish some of the key differences between Christianity and other world religions, and between different tendencies in Christian theology.
3. We hope you make some changes in your life as a response to the teachings of this lesson.
When you have done the following, it will show that the goals are met:
1. Use all the resources and complete all the written assignments of the lesson, expressing your own thoughts and attitudes regarding theology.
2. Obtain satisfactory grades on the automatically graded activities of the lesson, demonstrating that you can identify major doctrinal differences between Christianity and other major world religions, between different tendencies within Christianity, and between Reformed theology and other Protestant tendencies.
3. Answer the application questions in the study guides, making application of the teachings of the lesson to your own life.
Carefully read the "." You may want to print them out so that you can refer to them as you proceed through the assignments.
If you need a little reminder of how to do the assignments, go back to the instructions of lesson one and read the "General Instructions for Assignments" again.