Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Trap of Theology (And How To Avoid It)

Full disclosure: I love Theology

I really do.  I love the grand sweep of the great doctrines of the Bible.  And I love exploring the intricacies of the fine points of those great doctrines.

I love digging down and teaching and discussing and even splitting hairs.

Now if you are a Christian and say you don't care about Theology at all, I have two things to say:

1. You *should* care about Theology.  It is, after all, the study of God and things related to Him.

2. You really *do* care about Theology in some ways, you just may not realize it, or admit it.

For example, if I said to you that Jesus was not born of a virgin and did not rise from the dead, you would (and should) react with at least a little horror and say, "What? Of course He was born of a virgin and rose from the dead!"

And thereby you betray both your interest in, and caring about, Theology.

The Trap of Theology

I say all that to say this: there is a trap that we can easily fall into when we take an interest in Theology.  And the trap is this:

We sometimes prioritize Theology over the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

We don't want to.  We don't mean to.  But we do.

It's a vicious circle that may go something like this:

Step One - We know or learn a doctrine and think it's true and important.

Step Two - Someone disagrees with our view of the doctrine.

Step Three - We lovingly and spiritually seek to correct them.

Step Four - They refuse to be corrected.  In fact they have the audacity to argue their view to us.

Step Five - We abandon our reliance upon the Lord to change hearts and minds; drift into walking according to the flesh; let the wretched fool we are "discussing" the doctrine with have a piece of our mind; declare them (in our mind) a fool and likely reprobate; swell our heads in pride that we know the truth and they are too stupid and unspiritual to "get it", while we "who are spiritual" do "get it".

Although that is thankfully an exaggeration most of the time, it makes the point that we sometimes throw the Lord overboard in order to "defend" His honor.  We sometimes quench the Spirit and dispense with the fruit of the Spirit, in order to win an argument about our understanding of what the Spirit has inspired in His Word.

Remember what the Lord inspired in 1 Corinthians 13?

If we have not Love (the fruit of the Spirit), all our theological arguments don't keep us from being "nothing" and it profits us "nothing".

"...though I...understand all mysteries and all knowledge...I am nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2)

Winning a theological argument can sometimes be simply a "desire of the flesh".

"But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." - Galatians 5:16

Let's first guard our loving spiritual relationship with our our beloved Lord and Savior (Ephesians 1 thru 3) and then we may speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

5 comments:

godsurfer said...

Interesting post on theology. Thank you for sharing this.


Jeff
http://www.GODSurfer.com/
"If you have Articles, Blogs or Sites you want to share with other Christians,
add them at http://www.GODSurfer.com/ - Where you can help to bring God Online!"

Bhedr said...

as usual, right on target Terry. You are always so right without making it a point of letting everyone know you are right and that is part of what this post is about. Your a blessing.

Brian

janice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
janice said...

I couldn't have said it better, Bhedr, what you commented on Terry's blog post! Terry, I like how you talked about the verses from 1Cor. 13 in light of "The Trap of Theology (And How To Avoid It)". Renewing my mind, by speaking the truth in love,again! Thank you Lord.

Zaphon said...

Good point, and I think we've all been there. While knowledge can puff up, love builds up. But in order to do a building job, we need to tear down stongholds of bad thinking, and scale the wall of presuppositional error that begets poor theology.

YOu made the point that "we sometimes throw the Lord overboard in order to "defend" His honor". I think that a lot of people are guilty of that in that they treat the LORD as if He needs defending. Our bunker mentality causes us to be too defensive and offensively lash out.

I think if we treat the Gospel and the bible as a whole as "the power of God unto salvation" then we simply present it with adornment, and let the Spirit work.

On the other hand, we can try to be too loving, or a distortion of love, in that we offer no correction, or a half-hearted one at best, so as to avoid offending those who disagree with the truth.

The Apostle Paul withstood Peter because of Peter's hypocrisy in Galatians, and given the egregiousness of that error, I think he did a loving thing to Peter and the church.