We all do it. We see something snazzy, something punchy, a cool slogan or strap line, and we think ‘Yeah! I believe that!’. All too often, the Christian Church is too lazy to get to know God through deep study of scripture, doctrine and theology. Because of that laziness, we are tempted to be willing to accept any strap lines, quotes and literature that people throw at us at face value, without even attempting to scratch the surface of the books, literature, quotes and other things that we taken in and value as ‘Gospel Truth’. Please hear me now: I am guilty of this as much as anyone else who may be reading this post!
Now, I have blogged before on why studying theology is important. But, let’s start with the Bible. Studying the Bible is important because it is through the study of God’s word and feeding it into our lives that causes us to deepen our relationship with him. Through reading God’s word, we are introduced to theology, the study of God. And through our theology, we get our doctrine.
However, any theology and doctrine that we come across should be weighed up against the Bible. In the Anglican Church, we use three things to determine what is acceptable theology/doctrine. Primarily, we study the Bible. We use God’s word as the number one way to work out our theology. The other two are tradition (not the old dusty stuff, but the tradition of the Christian church since the first century) and human reason. All three of these things, when applied together should help us come to a decision on our theology.
The problem comes when people don’t study the Bible properly, disregard tradition and act as though they have no human reason. This problem can occur in both people who…
a) have authoritative power in some way in teaching the Bible, theology and doctrine
b) the listeners of those people who teach. (By teaching, I mean anything like pastors, TV Channels, books, readers, internet sites etc).
We are told to test everything that we hear (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). We are also told there is such thing as sound doctrine (Titus 2:1). And we are to test every spirit (1 John 4:1-6). OK, we face a challenge here. People may ask ‘Yeah, but sound doctrine can be subjective can’t it?’. Well of course it can. For example, women in leadership and gifts of the spirit, predestination, the nature of the Church, eschatology… these theologies and doctrines can easily be disagreed upon.
I’m not saying that by proper study of the Bible, we will come to the correct answers about every theology imaginable. No, indeed many theologies we may never fully grasp until heaven. But at least, by studying the Bible in a deep way, we will get our theology right on the most important doctrines, and these are the ones that affect salvation, and how we go about explaining God/Jesus and salvation to others.
Here are some strap lines, quotes and slogans that I believe are half truths, but nonetheless people easily digest and then share them with everyone they talk to. Consider whether they tell the whole truth, whether they are true in relation to the Bible, tradition and reason. I may be wrong on some of these, and I’m more than happy for you to discuss individual phrases with me to convince me otherwise. Here we go:
In conclusion, the aim of this post is to say, ‘Don’t buy into theology too easily!‘. It’s important to do your own theological work, whether you’re doing it as a degree or whether you’re an average Christian. For too long, people have sat in churches and taken the theology of both liberal and conservative preachers (may of them famous) just because they’re the people standing at the front.
What they’ve been left with at times is a half truth, or at the worst, heresy. Being misguided in theology is no help to anyone, and it’s important that we do our absolute best to keep Jesus central and aim to learn Biblical doctrine, theology and instruction for ourselves. I preached on this just recently. Even the most famous, Biblically grounded preachers are human at best, and it does well to remember this.
The Western Church has it all on a plate, theologically speaking. We can get sermons, read books, go to preaching events and theology is thrown at our faces. All we have to do is eat it up. Whilst all this is good, we’ve seemed to (to some extent) have forgotten those basic principles that I shared that are highlighted in the Bible. That is, we eat everything up and forget to digest the information, often ending up with indigestion! It’s important to evaluate and analyse the things we listen to, read, and learn. Otherwise, we’re going to end up eating some things that will one day make us very ill indeed…
Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre.
Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about
Dean – This is a very relavent topic! I’ve done some work on this one also: http://www.philippianjailer.com/2010/02/cliche-theology.html
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