More thoughts from A. W Tozer’s book, The Knowledge of the Holy:
“A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse.” (2)
Again Tozer draws a strong connection between doctrine and life. Across the landscape of Christianity today there is continental drift between life and doctrine with an ocean growing in between. The “life” side is highlighted, the “doctrine” side is painted as irrelevant. The result is a whole collection of things that the Bible has to say fall under the blacklisted heading of “theology and doctrine,” and the Christian is called elsewhere (toward good things and things found in the Bible, to be sure, but toward a vision of Christianity that is absent of things which smack of esoteric, heady knowledge, which theologians debate over but which seemingly have little implication for day to day life). “Systematics” is a dirty word. Tozer is drawing a bigger circle around the word theology than simply what is in the category of “systematics.” A “right conception of God,” he says, is the ground we stand on. It is silly to remove things which actually are pillars in that right conception of God and expect remain standing. It is not healthy, in the long run, to draw a distinction between life and doctrine. This is true even if the alternate picture of the Christian life is simply holding to “basic Christianity” or “just loving Jesus”. “Loving Jesus” is a wonderful thing, but it must be understood that loving Jesus is like standing on a point. From that point there are 360 degrees worth of directions to move and how a person moves from that point is solely and only determined by his or her conception of God, his or her theology. There is no standing still – even inaction is an action dictated by a conception of God. We must move and must make choices driven by doctrine – I want to make this point carefully. We are already committed! The real question is not one of standing still and just loving Jesus, the real question is when you move from the spot, is the direction you move in determined by as full a picture of God as the Bible contains? If all things that fall under the heading of systematics/theology/doctrine are jettisoned in the mind of the believer, the answer to that question is probably no.