Tom Nettles on Experiential Theology

Joe Thorn has started an excellent new series on pastor-theologians, and this week, he has interviewed Dr. Tom Nettles.  The journey Joe describes in his love of God and truth is one that I can imagine many have traveled down, and to see him doing a series on combining head, heart, and hands is going to be really helpful.

Nettles says experiential theology, or experimental Calvinism “pursues the purposeful application of every doctrine to some area of life that needs further conformity to Christ’s perfect humanity.”  Nettles commentary is exemplary of light and heat, and here are some excerpts I pulled from the interview:

Without a justification-driven, christocentric foundation all examination results either in self-righteousness or despair, legalism or antinomianism.

A clear and forceful integration of the biblical doctrines of the Trinitarian existence of God, the intrinsic glory of the Godhead, Christ’s infinite condescension, humanity’s fall and consequent just condemnation and punitive corruption, divine sovereignty in election, reconciliation and redemption, calling, resurrection, and eternal occupation—all of these and others constitute the pastoral task from the very beginning of establishing a worshipping congregation.

The biblical responsibility of the pastor consistently to place the believers in the context of this picture is at once both experimental and theological, practical and doctrinal. What we do and how we feel and how we respond to life’s details flows out of who we believe we are in God’s relentless push toward subduing all things to Christ, that in all things he might have the preeminence.

I will be chewing on these words by Nettles this week, and I encourage you to do the same.  Great stuff!

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3 Comments on “Tom Nettles on Experiential Theology”

  1. Jim Pemberton Says:

    This may be similar to something I’ve been chewing on recently as well: namely that the problem with Christian theological polemics is that it leaves the impression that the end of the pursuit of Christian truth is to be right about what we believe. While it is good to be right, and we need to be right about certain key things, it’s not always necessary to be right. Or from another angle: many people pursue truth so they can satisfy their itch to master the knowledge of God rather than to know God in such a way as to be satisfied with him. It’s better to ignorantly be wrong about some things and still desire the glory of God than to knowledgeably be right about these things and stop short of God’s glory in a desire for mere knowledge.

  2. Bill Nettles Says:

    Why does he always use such big words and thoughts when he’s talking theology? When I talk physics, he makes me simplify things.

    Let me see: When something (life) happens, my response tells me what I believe about God and His plans. My satisfaction doesn’t come from life being calm, but from knowing that God will accomplish His plan. The pastor reminds me, from the Word, of all the many ways that we, God’s people, are involved in His plan. Did I understand that correctly?


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