What are the real implications for those with bad theology if they don’t know it?
Or perhaps we should ask: what are the implications for our own bad theology?
As Snoopy in this strip implies, we all have a theology we follow; and we likely all follow different theologies. With all these theologies roaming around do you think that more than one can be right? Of course part of each could be right. That leaves part of others being wrong.
There are several problems inherent here.
The first is that we are likely all wrong on some points of our embraced theologies. The second is that we will argue incessantly over the points that we disagree on without knowing, truly, who is wrong. We all must be right because, after all, we believe (or better: have come to belief in) what we believe in. We wouldn’t believe in what we know to be untrue. Would we?
So has it ever occurred to you that you might be wrong?
Merriam-Webster online defines “theology” as follows:
: the study of religious faith, practice, and experience
: the study of God and God’s relation to the world
: a system of religious beliefs or ideas
When people study a subject there is a likelihood that an opinion about the correct answer will be called for. Obviously in fields such as mathematics, the answers are quite clear, distinct and explainable. One plus one is equal to two. Most people will agree to this. But when it comes to theology, there comes a point where people’s opinions begin to enter in and any semblance of “cut and dry” flies out the window. Opinion takes over and divisions result. This is why we have so many differing denominations
Now most of what differs between denominations is what is called doctrine. Merriam-Webster can again assist us; they define “doctrine” as follows:
: a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true
: a statement of government policy especially in international relations
So we see that doctrine revolves around something that is taught. Theology is the study of God (and faith and religious belief). So we can have many denominations that share the same theology but have differing doctrines. In this case (in Christianity) we say that we are all Christian (share theology) and differ on doctrine. We allow each other to be different in non-essential teachings. In other words, doctrinal teaching does not affect our salvation. Theological teaching does.
These essentials are
- a triune God (the Trinity) or one God in three distinct persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
- the deity of Christ,
- the resurrection of Christ,
- salvation by God’s grace and not by works,
- salvation through Jesus Christ alone,
- the Gospel (and the authority of Scripture: inspired, infallible and inerrant)
So, these things are necessary to be called a Christian. The authority of scripture and the infallibility of the Word of God, is important. For it is the bible that shows us what God desires for us. It shows us that God is One God who exists in three distinct persons. God is omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (everywhere at once) and omnipotent (all powerful). He is holy and righteous, with no sin or impurity in Him. He is eternal and unchanging — in this we can trust Him and trust that His Word is trustable, immutable. And God is Love. There is no darkness or hate in Him.
God created everything that we know. This includes us. He made us in His likeness and image. Although we are physical, God gave us a spirit. Our spirit held perfect communion with God until man sinned in the garden of Eden. When we sinned, we fell. When this occurred all of mankind was touched by the iniquity, the sin. Before us spread a curse in the world that could affect our physical and spiritual lives. God tells us:
Today I invoke heaven and earth as a witness against you that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live!
Deut 30:19 (NET)
There is blessing and curse before you and you get to choose. Choosing sin draws us closer to the curse. In the curse is sickness, disease, and suffering. Take a look at Deuteronomy 28 for more details of this.
God sent the Son, Jesus Christ, to become a perfect sacrifice to free us from the bondage of sin. Jesus suffered a brutal, bloody death on a cross and then rose from the dead. He will come again to judge the world. Those who are His shall be saved. It is through faith in Jesus that we are saved, faith alone and not by your works (actions). Someone can be a very, very good person, but that is useless if they are not in Christ.
To help us learn this God has set in place His Church. We worship and praise God; We learn and we fellowship (meet together, pray for one another, and help each other grow).
All this is the beginnings toward learning about God, about Jesus and about the Holy Spirit. All this is the lead to good theology. It is crucial that you understand what is hood and what is bad theology. And if you find that something you believe, something that is essential to our faith, is wrong then it is of utmost importance that you correct it. The only way to know how to correct is to read and understand the Word of God. And part of this learning is to surround yourself with people who truly are seeking God so that you can learn, discuss, exhort and correct one another. And get yourself in a strong church that teaches the Word under the covering of a Godly pastor and pastoral team.
Look for a good church with good teaching. Look for good theology.
Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately.
2 Tim 2:15 (NET)