Who invented the steam engine? In 1698, Thomas Savery, an engineer and inventor, patented a machine that could effectively draw water from flooded mines using steam pressure, and he is generally credited with the invention. But did he, really, invent the steam engine? The fact is that Savery’s invention and successive developments ushered in the industrial revelation and changed the face of industry and technology.
But did he, really, invent the steam engine? The fact is that steam is a physical reaction to boiling water, and steam has been around as long as water has. Savery didn’t invent steam, he merely developed a way to understand its use.
Theology is like that. God has been around since before water, and it is the job of those who study Christian theology is to discover the facts about God that already existed. Like Savery, those who study Christian theology study available evidence, but they don’t create anything new. It is an investigative process, not a creative process. God has already revealed Himself, and this revelation is found in the Scripture. It is, therefore, our responsibility to understand what He has revealed.
It is not good theology to “discover” new meaning that isn’t there. Therefore, the study of Christian theology is limited. It studies the facts about God as God has revealed them. God has determined the subject matter; it is not the determination of human beings.
We can only know as much about God as He has chosen to reveal to us. It is impossible to discover truths about God apart from the things that He has revealed—we are not able to fill in the gaps. If human beings want to understand God, then we must study His written Word, and that is counterculture in today’s post-modern environment, where everyone wants to have their own truth.