Thinking Theologically–Part 2, (this could be like the Rocky movies, many many sequels)
In Romans 1:18-32 Paul moves from declaring that in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, to declaring that the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness.
There are a number of theological and practical issues raised in this passage, but none more important than the role of God’s self-revelation and man suppression of truth (1:18).
Thinking theologically always starts with thinking about God. Every area of theology is impacted by our view of God and our view of man. Getting our theology of God right is the first step toward orthodoxy. And this passage shows that it is the first step to orthopraxy as well.
Paul states that God has revealed Himself plainly. That God has show Himself through His creative work. He has shown that He is powerful (eternal power) and divine (divine nature) (1:19-20). But not only has he revealed that He is the powerful creator, Paul states that God has revealed His righteous standards–his requirements and consequences (1:32). That is, God has revealed Himself in the grandeur of creation and in the conscience of man.
But in between those two passages we see what man has done with God. Not only suppressed the truth, but foolishly exchanged the natural for the unnatural–rather than worship of God man has turned to idolatry and immorality and all forms of wickedness.
And it started with what man thought of God.
It is interesting that this is not only true in a “pagan” culture where people actually make images of physical things into idols, but also in a sophisticated culture were we replace God with a myriad of idols–personal image, popularity, prestige, power, possessions, people, leading to passions out of control.
But it all starts with God. Is He the all-powerful creator, ruler of all? If He is, then he sets the standard. Or better, He is the standard.
But our correct view of God not only affects our actions but our belief system. And vice versus, our belief system affects our actions. So getting our view of God correct is a priority.
As here in Romans 1, so also throughout the Old Testament, our understanding of God starts with an eternal all-powerful creator who is distinct from creation but involved with His creation. These basic truths require us to acknowledge that He is in charge. He sets the rule. He sets the consequences.
And while He doesn’t seem to mind being questioned (on His rules and consequences), He will not be ignored. God must always be at the center. He is the starting point.