Stacey and I had a much-needed time of refocusing at a recent theology lab we attended. A good, sound, biblical theology is like a rudder of a ship that guides us through any kind of water that may come our way. Without it, we can easily fall into a "default" mode for ministry, church, and the Christian life. A biblical theology is needed to navigate through all of the challenges the world throws at us. For instance, what about cloning, abortion, discount stores, immigrants, citizenship, when to use life support, when to turn it off? As you can see, due to technology and cultural situations that did not exist when the Bible was written, there are some of these things the Bible simply could not have dealt with directly. As a result, Christian are confused about what is the right thing to do. This is why theological reflection can be so helpful.
At the heart of good theology is God, but not just a god as we want him to be because that is idolatry. Rather, it is the true, triune God that is inherently relational. This is why the Bible tells us that God pursues mankind relentlessly. This is why our Lord became flesh and lived among us and died on the cross. This is why Jesus ministered the way he did. This is why the Bible says, "God is love." This is why love is the greatest of all commandments, and why everything else radiates from this command.
What are the implications? There are many, but let's pick one, our humanity: Our relational God gave to us the breath of life and created us in his image. Doing violence to another human being is reprehensible because it is a direct affront to God. Let me illustrate. What kind of reaction would you get if you defaced an American Flag, toppled the tomb of the Unknown Soldier to build a convenience store on that site, or scribbled on the Viet Nam war memorial? We would be aghast because of what they have been fashioned to represent. You get the sense that you are standing on hallowed ground in the presence of these memorials.
That is how it is with human beings. Unlike other creatures, humans are made in the image of God. To oppress, exploit, and murder another human being is an outrage to God. No wonder God condemned murder! There is a sense that human beings are hallowed ground. Regardless of whether a person is disabled, handicapped, old, or twisted, they are still God's creation and carry the breath of God and therefore have inherent dignity and worth. God's solution was not to abandon humanity to the effects of sin, but to redeem and restore it. The "sanctity of life," means all of life, especially human life, is holy because it comes from God. This is why many promote a "culture of life," rather than a culture of death.
This is simply one reflection of what radiates from the core theology, that our God is inherently relational. There are many others that are applicable to all situations of life. So a simple but pertinent question is, "Are my attitudes shaped by good theology, or by cultural norms?"