Good Ways to Develop Bad Theology
As C.S. Lewis put it, “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.”
What this quote and our article series on everyday theology for the everyday Christian shows is that all believers are theologians to some extent. It is our responsibility to ensure that we are putting our best effort towards becoming good ones. For those uninterested in developing an accurate understanding of God, here are three good ways to end up with bad theology.
Ignore Difficult Bible Passages
The surest way to develop an incomplete picture of Biblical revelation is to skip over and ignore verses and passages that are confusing or conflict with what you previously thought.
When reading Scripture it is important to remember that not a single verse was included by accident. (Tweet That)
Rather than merely passing over a verse or passage that presents difficulty, we should compare it to other verses, consult commentaries, and keep digging deeper. Just as muscles become weak when not exercised, our theology is weakened when we avoid being challenged.
Only Read Authors that Agree with You
If you avoid reading or listening to pastors and authors that do not completely subscribe to your exact theology, you’re unlikely to grow beyond your current level of knowledge and spiritual maturity. It is important to gain at least a basic understanding of the ideas of those who believe differently than you.
However, this does not mean that we should spend time submerging ourselves in flawed theology or entertaining heresy for the sake of being open-minded. Rather it is recommended that we acknowledge that in many areas there are a variety of view points represented in the Christian faith.
Even our favorite pastors and teachers are not likely to be correct in every facet of theology. If we allow ourselves to explore other viewpoints we will do one of two things: strengthen our own positions by finding that alternative ideas lack Biblical credibility or, when appropriate, realize we must better conform our understanding to the truth of Scripture.
Compromise to Avoid Confrontation
The opposite of the error above is to simply abandon essential truths in search of harmony among conflicting beliefs. Those who are quick to alter their theology merely to accommodate the shifting opinions of the world are unlikely to develop or maintain solid theology.
There are an unfortunate number of examples where believers are abandoning or downplaying truth in order to satisfy those around them. Areas of creation, sin, and the exclusivity of Christ are often disregarded in order to avoid offending others with truth.
Rather than stand firm on the teachings of Scripture, many compromise their beliefs in order to maintain a level of comfort and political correctness. May our confidence in the essential truths of our faith allow us to stand firm in upholding them, even when facing difficult conversations and situations.
Every Christian is a theologian. The question is not whether we have an understanding of God, but if we have a correct understanding of Him. We should be striving to have a more complete understanding of God and seek spiritual growth.
Avoiding the three errors above can help us to maintain a proper focus on becoming better theologians and better equipped believers.