Theology matters. What we believe about God matters. The longer I pastor, the more convinced I am that our theology has the power to deeply wound and confuse people if we get it wrong. I am tired of meeting people who have been hurt by bad theology. I am tired of meeting people who have given up on church because someone taught them lies. Bad theology can be more destructive than drug addiction in a person’s life.
For Example – What is Faith?
“If you have enough faith, then God will answer your prayer.” Preachers spin this many different ways – promising health, wealth, or some other blessing if we just believe. What happens if you hear this teaching and then try to apply it to your life? What if you prayed in faith for something and did not receive it? Does it mean I need to try harder? Pray more? What’s wrong with me? Why isn’t God answering? Is He even there? You begin to doubt and you begin to feel inferior to the other believers who seem to be getting their own prayers answered. Bad theology usually sounds good at first, but it can be very damaging when you apply it. I’ve met many people who have been burned by this specific example.
“Faith” is not a magical pixie dust that we sprinkle on life to get what we want. Prayers are not magic words that we use to twist God’s arm into making things happen. God is not a genie in a lamp waiting to bless us with a new car if we rub the right way. How do I know? Consider Jesus, kneeling in the garden hours before his death, praying to God, asking Him to remove the cup he was about to face. (Luke 22:41-44)
Jesus, God’s perfect Son, asked for something very specific and He was denied. Remove this cup. Instead, he gets comforted by an angel and sent to His death. He is so physically distressed by what He is facing he sweats drops of blood. We find good theology in what Jesus says after he makes the request – “not my will but yours.” In other words, I want this – but more so, I want what you want! Even if you don’t give me what I would prefer… I will have faith in your answer. I will trust you. Faith is dependence on God.
Some consider the word “theology” itself to be a bad word, because of division in the church. Theology has created division in the church, but standards of doctrine also unite and protect us from serious error. Some things are not worth dividing over. But sometimes we need to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Tim. 6:12).
When others hear the word theology, it represents a love for the study of God, but not a love of God himself. Theology is not meant to be useless head knowledge. If it’s not being applied, then it’s not helpful. Many people dig the Scriptures looking for deeper knowledge, but unless the Holy Spirit is using that knowledge to convict and change us it will only lead to pride.
Good theology is grounded in Scripture and meaningful in today’s world. It brings God glory and helps us trust Him. And we need more of it, because there is a lot of bad theology out there.
Theology is best learned in community with other Christians. Find a church with clear doctrinal statements and resources to help you grow. You can learn more about what Christ Fellowship believes on this website.