Monday, August 23, 2021

Theology Police

There is good theology and bad theology. There is right theology and wrong theology. Some theology is based on the Bible and some is based on human reason. "Theology" means the study of God. It is our human effort to understand who God is and how he interacts with his creation.

I assert that theology based on the Bible is more accurate than theology based only on observation and reason. But we have problem with the term "biblical." When someone holds up an idea as biblical, often he or she means, "I can point to Bible verses to prove my idea." That's how we have people holding "biblical" positions that contradict other people's "biblical" positions. We like to find verses that support our ideas and ignore verses that do not. It's almost impossible to do systematic theology without finding numerous areas of tension.

This leaves us wondering who is right. The answer to that question is simple. We are right and you are wrong. At least that's how most theological warriors frame the issue. Often these warriors are self-appointed theology police, pointing out flaws and misinterpretations in the beliefs of others.

I caught myself doing this a few years ago. I was in a foreign (to me) language worship service in NC, in a church outside my denominational tradition. As the worship was getting exciting and into full swing, I was feeling the joy of the Spirit. God was powerfully present. Then the thought occurred to me, "I wonder how much more God would love these people if their theology was better." In that moment I was stunned at my own arrogance. I decided to resign from the theology police. I turned in my badge.

I still believe that some theology is better than other theology. But I'm going to trust God to set people straight. I'm sure I have plenty of messed up ideas about God, some of which come from misreading his word. I have to trust God with that too.

In the meantime, I do know that God wants me to love people and to love him. This much I know, and that's challenge enough for me. The deeper my own theology grows, the more I see his love.