“Larry Hart’s Truth Aflame brings together charismatic renewal and classic evangelical faith better than anything I have read. An important contribution to the contemporary renaissance in systematic theology!” Timothy George Dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, Executive Editor of Christianity Today As the Pentecostal/charismatic movement continues to grow, so does the need for solid theological resources for its members. While there are many volumes of systematic theology available, very few are written from a distinctly charismatic perspective. Truth Aflame seeks to meet that need. While academically sound, Truth Aflame is written with a practical, pastoral flavor. Larry Hart defines systematic theology as the process of taking what the Bible teaches and relating it to contemporary questions and knowledge. His passion for the subject is evident: he is concerned that the reader both grasps the magnificence of the study of God and allows these great truths to be transformative. This Truth, then—liberating, enlivening, and transforming Truth—becomes central to the ongoing renewal of the church that we are seeing in our day. Dr. Hart treats each of the traditional categories—revelation, God, creation, humanity, sin, Christ, salvation, the church, and last things—from a Pentecostal/charismatic perspective. He addresses other theological viewpoints but does not get bogged down in analysis and rebuttal. Further, he seeks to build bridges of understanding to those evangelicals outside the charismatic tradition. Clear, succinct, and readable, this revised and updated edition of Truth Aflame is well-suited not only for students, but for anyone desiring a greater understanding of Pentecostal/charismatic theology.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Is Theology Really Necessary?
Why Didn't Someone Tell Me that I'm a Theologian?
What about the Bible?
Get Your Thinking Straight!
There Are Theologians . . . and There Are Theologians
Who Is the Theologian Who Wrote This Book?
So What's the Strategy?
What, Exactly, Is Theology?
Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Theology
A Christian Theology
Get with the Program!
There Was a Time . . .
Creeds, Confessions, and . . . Confusion!
The Necessity of Theology
Then Along Came Kant . . .
Some Said That It Was Thunder
Where Do We Go from Here?
Select List of Confessions
If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching [doctrine] that you have followed.
---1 Timothy 4:6 TNIV
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
---2 Timothy 4:3 TNIV
Why Didn't Someone Tell Me That I'm a Theologian?
A fine professional Presbyterian theologian once said that sex, politics,
and theology were the only things worth talking about. Sex, he said,
presents us with the question, 'Who am I?' Politics asks, 'How can we learn to live together?' But theology raises the ultimate questions about our origins, meaning, and destiny. Of the three topics, theology is the most interesting and important because it includes all the questions of the other two topics. 'The study of theology is by definition the quest for the ultimate truth about God, about ourselves and about the world we live in. What else is there to talk about?'1
We unknowingly think about and discuss theology almost by the minute! Everyone is a theologian. If you have any opinions at all about what life is all about---what we humans are up to, what God (if you believe there is a God) is up to, and what is important in life---then you are a theologian. You have a theology whether you like it or not. Your theology is either well thought out and coherent, or it is hodgepodge and piecemeal.
Even atheists are theologians!
We sometimes think of theologians as professionals who specialize in esoteric,
philosophical discussions about otherworldly matters that have little relevance to everyday life. Too often this idea appears accurate. In defense of the professionals,
though, they have their rightful place in the scheme of things, along with specialists in other fields such as science and technology. The term theology can also have a bad name because there is so much bad theology out there. However, the answer to bad theology is not no theology, but good theology.
What about the Bible?
The other issue that arises when we mention theology is the Bible.
Don't theologians enter into endless debate about the meanings of myriad biblical passages as they hammer out their positions (and sometimes the heads of their opponents!)? To be sure, the Bible has always played a major role in theological enterprise. Later we will evaluate what this role has been and should be.
At this juncture, however, we will simply acknowledge the central role that the Bible has had for theological discussions both inside and outside the church. The big question is then, What is the Bible all about?
Jack Rogers once said that he could summarize the basic message of the
Bible in ten seconds: 'God made a good world and people messed it up;
and God sent Jesus to put it and people back together.'2 This statement raises a number of questions---all theological in nature.
One such series of questions relates to the Bible itself: Why is the
Bible so important anyway? How do we know whether its message is true? Can we be certain? Why do we accept the Bible as revelation? Theology texts address these and related issues in their prolegomena (prefatory)
and methodology sections. Also, the nature of the Bible's role as revelation---
its authority, inspiration, trustworthiness,
and so on---arises early on in almost any thorough doctrinal work.
Rogers's statement raises further questions:
Just who is this God who created the universe? Is the idea of a Creator God viable today in the face of the exploding body of scientific knowledge? What is the nature of the world that God made? What is the essential nature of humanity? What does it mean to be created male and female? (Now there's an interesting topic---and a profoundly theological one as well.)
Rogers's reference to our 'messing things up' brings up the concept of sin. This is perhaps the most offensive doctrine of all. Are we really all sinners? What exactly does this mean?
Then mention is made of Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus Christ? What is his precise relationship to God? What was his mission? What did he do?
Is he really God, as many say? Did he actually claim to be God? How does he 'put everything back together'? Is he finished doing all this yet? Is he coming back to earth?
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Is Theology Really Necessary? 11
2. Revelation: How Does God Make Himself Known? 39
3. God: Who Is God, and What Is He Like? 71
4. Creation: What Does It Mean to Believe in God as Creator? 147
5. Humanity: Who Are We, and What Does It Mean to Be Created in God’s Image? 215
6. Sin: What Is the Nature of Sin, and
What Are Its Consequences? 249
7. Christ: Who Is Jesus, and How Does He Save Us? 277
8. Faith: What Is the Nature of the Salvation God Offers Us? 369
9. Hope: What Is Christian Hope? 461
10. Love: What Is God’s Plan for the Church? 533
Subject Index 592
Person Index 598
Scripture Index 602
Copyrights of Bible Versions Used 608