The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 42
2.—What is Theology?
2.—What is Theology?
"But," continues the lecturer, "if we are to have a formulated system of belief—a theology—then it is said inspiration is necessary; and it it is asserted that we cannot become acquainted with theology as we learn geology or music, then certainly inspiration is needed." It must be patent to everyone that theology is "knowledge of God." It is defined by lexicographers as "the science of God." Then, to know what the meaning of the phrase is, we have to inquire into our idea of the "being of God "—What is God? and How do we know of God? It is beyond the power of man's unaided reason to think of such a being as the "God of the Bible." It may be argued that "the heathen have a very high knowledge of God in many instances. Greek philosophy exhibits a very grand knowledge of the Supreme One." To this I reply, a "knowledge of God" has been, according to the Bible record, transmitted to a greater or less extent through all the families of mankind by their remote ancestors. If the earliest writings amongst the primitive residents of Greece in Europe and India in Asia show a remarkably clear idea of a Divine Being, I answer that is simply what the Bible leads us to expect. And the fact discovered, is at least a strong proof of the truthfulness of the ancient history of the Scriptures. If we, for the present, assume the fact of the Noachian deluge and the veracity Scripture history succeeding, we find one grand centre of Divine knowledge living, as a source of irradiation, for a period of 500 years after. Shem, the progenitor of the Semite population of the world, lived for 500 years after the flood, and must have been a most venerable, and venerated personage, amongst the post deluvians. He was the ancestor, yet the contemporary of Abraham, and even his survivor by some years. Think of this man—of his great influence and his position amongst the people for five hundred years while the earth was in course of being repopulated! He must have often spoken of the great events of his life, and often have told of his father's obediience to Divine direction in the construction of the ark. He must often have spoken of the Divine Being who had thus directed the work of Noah, and the people must as often have heard his wondrous story, which would be the theme of converse for generations even amongst those who wandered far from the centre of population. And thus would a knowledge of God be carried down the course of time to all races of mankind, and it is a fact that the books of the East written nearest that period have the clearer conception of Deity. How natural a consequence; but how powerful an argument against gradual development of Evolution! Thus, though the old books of antiquity are acquainted with the idea of the being of God, we discover in that no argument against the Divine origin of "theology," but a powerful argument in its favour; for as men became separated by a greater gulph of time from the days of Shem, their thoughts of God become more corrupt and vague, except in the narrow strip of Bible lore, in which it beautifully becomes brighter, clearer, truer, until in Christianity it shines in the most perfect grandeur. I contend that we cannot gain a knowledge of the first principles of page 21 "theology" as we can those of geology—from observation and experience. We cannot—for it is not within the limits of possibility—form an idea of an infinite being; we cannot conceive of an omniscient being. It is impossible to gain the idea of eternity from observation; yet we have it. It is equally impossible to gain the idea of infinity from observation; yet we have it. How then came we by them? Who then was the communicator? Deity! Hence, inspiration is necessary, and is a fact.