The Theology of History

History is more than the recording of events. History is about interpretation. Whether it be war or famine, natural disaster or 9/11 it is undeniable that in every human event there is something operating that is much deeper than mere record. History also carries with it themes. In human moments there are themes of judgment, morality, hope, and despair. As victims of history we sense that this world is not as it should be and there is the potential for it to be something far better.

We call these sorts of thoughts and arguments “natural theology.” Natural theology speaks of the truth we all encounter without the help of “special revelation” like the Bible, a prophet, religion, the life of Christ, etc. Natural theology points to that area in all of us that thinks about existence and asks the question “why.” There must be an answer. Natural theology observes design and order and discerns that there must naturally be a designer, something intelligent that is behind all of this. Natural theology points to the moral nature that exists in all of us and wonders how did morality come to be? For more reading on this subject I recommend to you C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and/or N.T. Wright’s Simply Christian.

Romans 9 – 11 is a theological interpretation of history. More specifically these passages examine salvation history. Salvation history is what God has done and is doing in the world to redeem fallen man from sin. It is a top down look at what God has done in belief and unbelief to declare and glorify His name.

As we enter this weekend’s sermon I would encourage you to look at your own life, your story, your history and make some sort of attempt to examine it top down. Paul has made it clear that no one knows the mind of the Lord (Rom. 11:34) but at the very least you can examine your story and trace how it has shaped your “theology.” What are the events in your life and how do they relate to your opinion of Jesus? This is not an easy assignment and there is nothing shallow about it, but as we study Romans 9 I think it is a beneficial exercise.

Romans 9 is Paul’s top down examination of salvation history in the area of how God has used the history and unbelief of Israel to bring about salvation amongst the Gentiles (the non-Jew). It is a theological interpretation of history that shows how God is narrowing down the definition of what it means to be His child, His people (v. 7, 24-26). There are a lot of definitions and opinions of what it means to be a “child of God.” The problem is that God has exclusive rights to that definition. This is manifested as He works in history to bring people to a saving knowledge of Himself.

What is God doing in your life that is shaping your relationship to Him? Maybe you are seeking? Maybe you need some answers? Whatever your story, it is unmistakably authored by God. What is He writing in your life so that you may know Him? The history of your life is a lesson in natural theology, take a closer look, He is there.


Anonymous said…
Your suggestion to read Mere Christianity inspired me to pick up this book again. I have owned it for years and started reading it several times but never got past the first few is the study of Romans 9-11. However, this morning I managed to get past the first few pages. I am learning much as we study Romans...we are also studying Romans in Bible Study on Sunday nights in our CLG. I know God must really want me (us) to be paying attention and getting His message from Romans since that is the book we find ourselves reading & studying constantly. Praying for you as you prepare and deliver God's message to us tomorrow. May God grant us understanding as we hear!! Proverbs 3:5&6. Eugenia

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