The contemporary evangelical Christians as a whole has a severe allergic reaction when it comes to theology. You can’t get too theological at your campus fellowship sharing time, nor can you get too theological even during bible study sessions in some churches.
Perhaps this is not the case in your church, but over the years, far too often have I met Christians with severe allergies for deep theological doctrines and conversations, which got me thinking “Like, seriously – why are Christians so afraid of theology?”
It’s the dang perception!
Quiet a number of Christians who disliked going into deep theological conversations kindly pointed out to me that they have a very bad perception of people who are theological. Those cold-hearted theological Christians that have a big head but a small heart, all about talks but no deed.
The “theology-phobes” usually mention that the biggest commandment is to love God and love thy neighbour. The funny thing is I have also heard such emphasis from one other particular group as well: liberal theologians.
They too likewise claim and strongly emphasize the two biggest commandments and suggest that they have hard enough time as it is trying to live like Jesus and love others. They suggest their focal point in their spiritual life is absolutely about being like Jesus Christ and to be conformed to his image. Yet they deny the deity of Christ and tweak justification by faith and destroy themselves and others with prosperity gospel.
“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge” – Romans chapter 10, verse 2.
Our zealousness to live like Christ is absolutely vain, unless they are founded upon the right and correct biblical doctrines, and how will we know and discern unless we are grounded in deep spirit enriching theology?
Distinguish between good theology and godless chatter!
To be fair, the good genuine “theology-phobes” aren’t against knowledge and sound doctrine like liberal theologians, but are against godless chatters.
“Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care (i.e. sound doctrine). Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” – 1 Timothy chapter 6, verse 20.
A lot of their bad experiences with theology has to do with encountering people who got so worked up about “myths and genealogies” which promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work (1 Timothy, chapter 1, verse 4).
In Titus chapter 3, verse 9 Paul gives us an advice saying: “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless”.
The word theology comes from two Greek words; theos (meaning God) and logos (meaning words). Theology is simply a study of God, it is a bible study!
Theology only becomes “foolish controversies and genealogies” if it is engaged with a foolish and controversial heart. In contrast, if you properly engage in theology as you ought to (with humility, love for God and neighbour and a passionate heart to edify one another), it will be like replacing your bronze age sword with a top-notch steel katana (Armour of God…take up the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God – Ephesians chapter 6, verse 17).
Theology: a church divider or a church saver?
People have often accused theology of being a church divider and indeed many times it has split churches as discussions escalated into conflicts. However, I have already pointed out that such things are not true theology, but a godless chatter.
Christians should learn how to agree to disagree, because unity does not necessarily mean uniformity. We can decide to disagree on certain doctrines and keep the discussion free and open with love and gentleness, yet stand strongly united on doctrines that are essential to our faith.
Proper theology is not a church divider, but a church saver. Fear of the Lord always comes before properly engaged theology as it is written “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” – Proverbs chapter 1, verse 7. Good and healthy theology will save our churches! After all I fully agree with Hosea… “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” – Hosea chapter 4, verse 6.
As a staunch Calvinist, I will wrap up this article with a quote from one of my favourite Arminian, C.S. Lewis:
“Theology is practical, especially now… If you do not listen to Theology that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones – bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas”
Richard Kwon is from Auckland, a regular lay person who just loves the Lord.