Theology Versus Experience

By Patrick Hawthorne


Theology, the science of God!  That sounds rather impersonal doesn’t it?  Yet, when you think about it, science is the systematic study of things, people, disciplines, etc.  So, the term, “Science of God,” is quite accurate.  For without a systematic study of God, we are likened to the man who built his house on the sinking sand.  When the storms came, there was no foundation for the structure to stand. Now, the question that we must ask is this…Does theology trump a tangible encounter with God, or does a tangible encounter with God trump theology?

As I have written in previous posts, there are some theological arguments that will not sway me from current thoughts and beliefs no matter how well the argument is presented.  Why?  It is because I have had an experience with God in those areas.  For example, many believe the gift of tongues has passed away.  Being as I speak in tongues, the argument that they have passed is meaningless to me.  I have and will continue to experience the infilling power of God.

Now, back to the question…do my experiences with God replace the need to follow sound Biblical doctrine and theology?  The best way to answer this question is by employing the argument of someone much brighter than me.  His name is C.S. Lewis.  Lewis likened theology to a map of the ocean.  As we all know, a map of the ocean is not the actual ocean; it is a paper representation of the ocean created from the encounters and experiences of thousands of people.

For those who argue that all one needs in their pursuit of God is sound theology, their viewpoint could be likened to the man who stared at the map for a lifetime, dreaming of the places he would visit.  Unless he actually steps out to experience the wonders found on the map, he will never go anywhere and the knowledge he gains will be very limited.

On the other hand, those who strive to live by God experiences alone are likened to the man who set out to explore the wonders of the world but had no map to guide him.  He wandered around aimlessly with no sense of direction or purpose.  Occasionally he might find something of interest, but for the most part his plight was no better than the man who stared at the map but never moved.

Looking at the argument from both sides of the aisle, it is easy to see that there is no benefit to one side over the other.  Both theology and God experiences are of equal value.  By dismissing one in lieu of the other is to walk an unbalanced walk resembling that of a drunken man.  Be blessed.


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10 comments on “Theology Versus Experience
  1. Jules says:

    Spot on! Balanced experience of Word and Spirit gives us a purpose filled godly life.


  2. Amen! I have been guilty of looking at the map far too long in many cases.


  3. Moderation in all things.:0)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Too much Word without the Holy Spirit, you puff up. Too much Holy Spirit without the Word, you blow up! That is an expression I have always heard to say, “Moderation in all things.” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess, I had more training from the puffed up folks because my first experiences with ‘church folk’ were of the blown up sort. I found my spot in between. The way I say it is that the personal revelation, written revelation, and natural revelation must all agree or it isn’t from God.:0)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. lagrizzly1 says:

    As usual, Brother Patrick presents a thought provoking question of our own beliefs! Thanks!!


  5. Thank you, sir…I haven’t heard from you in awhile. I hope all is well.


  6. The two have to go hand in hand. The Word is the compass to full experience.


  7. mitchteemley says:

    Nice metaphor, Patrick, and an effective elaboration on what Jesus meant when he began his “house on a rock” parable with the words, “Those who hear these words of mine AND are do (or act upon) them…”


  8. Thanks…I do have to give credit to C.S. Lewis for putting me on to the thought process


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