I have come to have a love-hate relationship with theology. I love it because it can deepen one’s faith, helping people to rejoice more because they understand and know God better (Jer. 9:24). There is nothing more exciting than the look on peoples’ faces when they are being theologically transformed. It is the “wow, this is really true” look. I live for that both in myself and in others.

However, there is a dark side to theology. I see it everyday. I pray that this does not infect my students, but inevitably, there are always one or two who take their theological knowledge and create a recipe of sin and shame. These are people I call “theologically dangerous.”

The theologically dangerous have no grace. They get some right answers and then become the judge, jury and executioner of people. What should have been the path toward humility turns into the path of arrogance. Their self-justification for their graceless belligerence is this: “I am not arrogant, I am discerning.” Correct theology becomes a virtue that swallows up virtues of tenderness, grace, respect, and kindness, offering only a black hole of hopelessness unless people conform. Those who come in contact with them are judged only by their statement of faith. Their fellowship circle is small and friends few. The distinction between essentials and non-essentials does not find a place in their diary. They hunt and hunt for bad theology until they find it. They correct others with pride. When they are not invited to the parties, they interpret this as a mark of persecution for a theology well-played.

These are the type of people who are on the dark side of theology. Unfortunately, those who are theologically dangerous are the most vocal (and possibly, the most numerous). Since they have yet to be theologically humiliated, they can’t stop talking. The fear of God, they have yet to learn. They set themselves up as the watchdogs of Christian orthodoxy. They are the first to comment and correct on the blogs. They are the first to raise their hand in Sunday School when you say, “Does anyone have any questions?” Yet after ten minutes of talking, you ask yourself “what part of the word ‘question’ do they not understand?” They question people’s salvation based on minor theological points of disagreement.

Fortunately, many eventually increase in their theological knowledge to a point where they become theologically transformed. This happens when one becomes theologically humiliated. It is like the transition from uninformed adolescence, to a know-it-all teenager, to a mature adult. The mature adult has wisdom and grace due to their coming of age theologically. All the things they thought they knew as a teenager goes through the trials of life. Doctrinal battle scars evidence a ripening of the fruit of belief. Their categories become more diverse. They realize that while there are some black and whites to our faith, there is also a lot of grey. In other words, they recognize that there is a lot we don’t know. They tighten their grip on the main things and losen it on others. They choose their battles very carefully. It is a transition from ignorance to arrogance back to some degree of informed ignorance.

At this point, fellowship can resume. The lynch mob is sent home. The invitations to parties trickle in. The lantern of the hope of the gospel is shinning bright. At this point, the dark side of theology is over.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    125 replies to "The Dark Side of Theology"

    • Mike

      There is a Russian word for “spiritual delusionment.” It is “prelest.”
      http://www.roca.org/OA/66-68/66n.htm

    • Great piece and word CMP! The Christian Faith is an eternal revelation of God to man or humanity, and is therefore necessarily in one sense incapable of change, but none the less in another sense it is continually changing, at least again as it is lived in a constant broken world, and certainly in each of us as God’s redeemed. It is here I think of 2 Cor. 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

    • Coleman Glenn

      I love Emanuel Swedenborg’s description in Arcana Coelestia; he chalks it up to having rational intelligence but not (yet) rational love: “The person whose rationality is of such a character that he is solely in truth – even though it be the truth of faith – and who is not at the same time in the good of charity, is altogether of such a character. He is a morose man, will bear nothing, is against all, regards everybody as being in falsity, is ready to rebuke, to chastise, and to punish; has no pity, and does not apply or adapt himself to others and study to bend their minds; for he looks at everything from truth, and at nothing from good.” And later on, describing someone who has truth tempered with love: “Rational good never fights, however it is assailed; because it is mild and gentle, patient and yielding; for its character is that of love and mercy. Yet although it does not fight, it conquers all, nor does it ever think about combat, or glory on account of victory; and this because it is Divine, and is safe of itself.” Unfortunately, I think the first phase is one that everyone has to go through to one extent or another has he learns theology; but hopefully, as you say, eventually he reaches the other side, where after being “theologically humiliated” (I love that phrase), he sees other people with empathy, and no longer as below himself.

    • Eric Ivers

      From reading this piece, you sound theologically dangerous. Seems you are the one able to classify those who disagree with you, but you don’t want them to classify you.

    • brad gilbert

      This post was awesome based in the two pictures alone of the Dark Side and “Cancel my calls…”! Great content too.

    • Matt

      In the first month of seminary we were required to read Helmut Thielicke’s A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. We all need to read this.

    • Joe B

      Great thoughts. I’m not sure the phenomenon is really a chronological, linear progression that parallels a growth in theological knowledge, but I hope you are right!

    • Lex

      Well put. I fight this all the time. (Love the phrase “informed ignorance.”)

      I love theology, and the study of God’s word, but every so often I find myself scooting toward that “dark side.” Ugh. Every so often I have to put the theology down and read something like The Hiding Place, or Through the Gates of Splendor, again.

    • brother philip

      I agee whole heartedly having seen this occur often while taking my studies at Trinity. It was sickening to a degree.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      The true disciple of Jesus’ is only certified as true by his compliance to what Jesus has commanded. Yes indeed they are exceedingly dangerous to every theolgian. Which is why the theologian instinctively fears them. Since they refuse to comply with religious social constraints a spade is a spade is a spade to them. And they know that telling the truth about a spade is not an offense against God. Since there is not any theologian who does not refuse to disobey God.

    • J. Raymond Kelley

      Is it “theology” which has the dark side, or is it the ideologue wherein the dark side resides? I am one of those who appreciates a catchy title, so I am not commenting for the purpose of drawing a line in the sand, especially when the substance of the comment addresses the flaw as one in the person and not in the science/study. Unfortunately, my own experience with many people is that, despite the clarity contained in the substantive comment itself, too often the bumper sticker title will get the repetition and emphasis, furthering among the body an anti-intellectual bias that is already far more entrenched than it should be. Again, no criticism of substance or of title really intended. Simply an observation that even such a little thing as a title can be misused — in this case in the opposite extreme.

    • C Michael Patton

      Eric. Good point. You may be right!

    • david carlson

      so the question is then – what do we do (as individuals, churches, etc) to get people to the transformed stage

    • david carlson

      @eric

      ouch

    • William R. Ferguson

      I like the term “theologically humiliated.” I think it is an inevitable stage that every serious student of Christ must go through. I remember the time when I have been dangerous with learning and understanding new things. I had that feeling that I had “arrived.” It is sickening to think of how I would inwardly look down on others for not having the same “convictions.” I had to be “theologically humbled” before I could develop both an understanding and appreciation for someone else’s convictions. I have realized since then that like you said in your article, there are lot of “grays” where some think are “black and white”. I have also learned to have a little grace with those who do disagree with me on what I would consider non-negotiable issues. Thanks for your insights.

    • Juan Carlos

      Theology is the study of God. Is there a dark side to the study of God? Or is it the dark side of the one studying God? The heart is wicked and the one to blame for what you are describing. Your title is faulty and many assumptions were made. I guess your gonna call me “theologically dangerous” for sharing my thoughts. A sad case for a poor title to your thoughts.
      This article feeds the ignorant and starves the one needing theological inquiry. I say this with sincerity and love. You are not helping us to love the Lord our God with our minds. At least with this article.

    • Derek

      Hey Michael, thanks for this one. I needed to read it. I’ve been on the back-hand end of theologically dangerous people (and not just Calvinists) as you define them. In fact, I’m on the receiving end of one now.

      For my own self, I’ve been theologically humiliated repeatedly since I started blogging, and as such you adequately describe my journey in that part of your article as well.

      I look forward to the time when “the fellowship can resume”.

      Much appreciated again!

    • Bobby Grow

      CMP wrote:

      They tighten their grip on the main things and losen it on others. They choose their battles very carefully.

      I understand your point on attitude—which your whole post seems to be addressing—and I agree that there is an mutually implicating component that inheres between attitude and knowledge; but the rub, from my perspective, comes in at the very point I have highlighted (from you) above. That is, that the “main things”—like a doctrine of God, Christology, soteriology, etc.—can be the very points of departure that we argue over as brothers/sisters in Christ. In other words, the “main things” (and not the “grey” areas) are often the sources of the most heated debate. So given the interrelationship between attitude and knowledge, and the main things being the points where we very often disagree (as Christians in general); there seems to be a breaking point wherein we all could be labeled “theologically dangerous.” How would you get around this conundrum, Michael? Christian Smith has recently labeled this phenomenon, for Evangelical Christians, as; Pervasive Interpretive Pluralism.

    • Bobby Grow

      CMP wrote:

      They tighten their grip on the main things and losen it on others. They choose their battles very carefully.

      I understand your point on attitude—which your whole post seems to be addressing—and I agree that there is an mutually implicating component that inheres between attitude and knowledge; but the rub, from my perspective, comes in at the very point I have highlighted (from you) above. That is, that the “main things”—like a doctrine of God, Christology, soteriology, etc.—can be the very points of departure that we argue over as brothers/sisters in Christ. In other words, the “main things” (and not the “grey” areas) are often the sources of the most heated debate.

    • Doc Pagala

      CMP, it is good that you recognize the point that Eric made. I have often wondered the same. At what point does humility come into play when we consider the gravity of what Christ commands us to do as His disciples, yet we struggle with justifications or rationale for the syndrome of “do as I say, not what I do” in the practice of this thing called life on this side of Heaven. Granted our orthodoxy does not often equate to good orthopraxy. Piety basically sucks as it leaves little room for grace, both from God, and what we give to others, especially those who hold views diametrically apposed to our own. Collectively our sin issues are ever before us, yet it is often ignored or glossed over in this post-modern day and age. Hence the dark side of theology, akin to the lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. When do we simply give Glory to God for His goodness, and not trip so much on all the rest. If it were not for this thing called sin… enuf said.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      @ david carlson,
      “What do we? do to get people to the transformed stage.” Who is it that has given himself the responsibility to transform a man?

    • What is really sad, is when someome has been “theologically humiliated”, and they don’t really know it! As one can even “theologically” humiliate themselves with their own speech! The whole idea that “theology” and “theologians” are somehow negative, is again just complete ignorance! For theology is the study of God Himself!

    • C Michael Patton

      Yes, folks. It is, as the article says, a problem of our sin nature, not theology itself. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.

    • Doc Pagala

      Fr. Robert you got that right. Anyone who ever asked the simple question, “Is there God?” is by definition a theologian. I think too much is given to the title. It is like lay people have no idea that they are theologians whenever they posed the simple question, “Who is God?”

    • JJ

      How to tell if we are theologically dangerous? The minute we stop letting the Word of God choose our interpretations, but rather our theology. We stop listening to the word of God because our theology says, “Well, it may seem like ABC, but actually…” And that is dangerous. No, not always wrong if it is the Scriptures that are causing us to have that divergent view… but, as you say, Michael, danger awaits when our theology trumps our growth in Christ.

      Ever wonder why Jesus, if our theology is so important, why Jesus didn’t just sit down the disciples and teach them the 5 points, or the 7 points , or… etc. 🙂
      JJ

    • DeWayne

      What you appear describing would be the false teacher and prophet, or perhaps the as yet immature still using this worlds wisdom and knowledge. These with love from the mature in Christ will learn if gently shown where mistaken providing biblical truth, or of the rebel in revolt certainly needing rebuke in manner that they still may learn.

      Certainly you were not grouping all that disagree as rebel in revolt, remembering the prophet often are little appreciated, and sometimes giving needed warnings received with great displeasure, were actually stoned to death.

      The last days began with Christs ministry on earth, He gave adequate warning about the church and christians as these last days progressed, and very few prophet today are not warning of the corruption now found within the church.

      What is at stake is a spiritual war, neither tongues are denied, nor a Christian should they err in maturity, and the mature need be aware both of need and the signs of the times.

    • Doug H

      It’s worth noting that this is only really a danger for people steeped in a particular kind of conservative theology. People learning more about liberal theology can certainly face dangers and even become dangerous, but the danger is of an entirely different kind.

    • And again, we could say that without “theology” there is great danger, as we can note with much overt “fundamentalism”! In the end, we must needs “think” theologically, which hopefully ends in good dogmatics!

    • Joseph

      Everyone who studies theology is dangerous! If anyone has taken to following Christ or even claims to be a Christian, whether they actually study the bible or even knows what it means to be one or not, they are dangerous! You are dangerous!! I am dangerous!! We are all dangerous, and each of us must decide what we will do with the knowledge God has blessed us with. What we do with our knowledge and blessings that come from the Lord may mean life or death for 1, 10, or even millions! We must all remember this!! Our enemies do, and they will use us, if they can, to destroy if we do not watch ourselves and keep our eyes on Jesus.

    • Shaun Campbell

      Well said!

    • Theodore A. Jones

      @JJ,
      “Why didn’t Jesus’ sit down and teach them the 5 pts., or the 7 pts., or etc.? He did. But what he teaches contridicts those pts. etc.

    • Doc Pagala

      Sometimes I feel like the more that I know theologically, the dumber I become. Christ didn’t have to teach the 5 or 7 points. He IS the point. It is so simple, yet we tend to make Him stupid. Sometimes we simply need to take what He says at face value, and let grace reign in our lives. Over thinking His message is theologically dangerous. Keep it simple stupid… just sayin.

    • My theological studies completely transformed me in a good way (I hope). I started out as an arrogant fundamental baptist and am now an Anglo-Lutheran evangelical Catholic. It was both humbling and a relief to know how much wisdom can be found by those who have gone before me, and to paraphrase Thomas Oden, I want to “make no new contributions to theology.” Augustine, John of Damascus, Anselm etc…have a way of cutting you down to size. I truly believe that God was working in a “mysterious way” when I was given an Eastern Orthodox roommate at an Evangelical college. What is amazing is that this change occurred in less than 3 years, which makes me wonder how much I actually knew before!

    • Theodore A. Jones

      @Apolo & Occi
      Some jump from the pan into the fire, but think they are better off from the effort.

    • Jim Montesano

      I understand where you’re coming from, but the overall benefit of knowing more about God, and the Bible, the better off one is equipped to stand against the enemy! A similar argument was laid against interpreting the bible in the common language, although I’m not saying this is your stand. If we do this, they’ll make a mess of theology! I feel not knowing theology, at least the essentials of the Christian faith is the number one reason we see people in cults, like Mormons and JW’s also people falling into very bad theological churches, if one can call them churches. So, brother please keep equipping the saints, and do things like this, which brings these type bad reasoning out. Maybe someone will see it, and be turned around to be more irenic. This is what I see that disturbs me, many people who shun theology proper, think they’ve arrived at the perfect theology, when the fact is they’ve never studied deeply how doctrines connect with each other. If you really understand grace properly, you’ll tend to never be a legalist. If you understand God’s sovereignty, you’ll be humbled to you’re knees and give God the glory in all things. I could go on. Thanks Michael, I’ve taken many of your courses, and went on to go to seminary and get a degree. THANKS! for all you do, including bringing things like this to light.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      @ Doc P
      It is better to take what He has said at face value all the time rather than at our pleasure of sometime.
      “If you love Me keep my commandments.” for if you don’t obey him it proves you don’t love Him.

    • Juan Carlos

      I wouldn’t blame theology no more than blaming a car running someone over. It’s always the person. Theology is just the vehicle to know more of God and it is one that Jesus has commanded us to do. I would have entitled the blog: “The dark side of the human heart”

    • Ben

      Don’t bother reading this if you are not Juancar Los.

      JuanCar los says: “Theology is the study of God.”

      Thank you for your thought provoking point. Well said, I’m sure no one here knew that.

      JC “Your title is faulty and many assumptions were made. I guess your gonna call me “theologically dangerous” for sharing my thoughts.”

      You accused him of making assumptions and then made one yourself immediately afterwards. I think most people here understand the background to the phrase ‘The Dark Side’ with a picture of Darth Vader beside it. Theology does have a dark side in terms that the knowledge gained can be misused, much like ‘the force’ in Star Wars (that the title of this post is alluding to) can be used for evil.

      I would be lying if I said ‘sorry to get on your case’, I’m not sorry because you haven’t contributed to this discussion at all. So instead I’ll just get on your case. You said he made many assumptions but you did not point any out. You just immediately made one yourself. Thats not helping anyone, CMP with his TTP has done more for my faith and countless other peoples than anyone else in 31 years which is why I’m bothering to write this. What have you done?

      JC “This article feeds the ignorant and starves the one needing theological inquiry.”

      No it doesn’t, it warns the new and immature of what to expect as they go along in their study. I found it a good warning since I am both.

      JC” I say this with sincerity and love. You are not helping us to love the Lord our God with our minds. At least with this article.”

      Again, I detect little love in your own post, just finger pointing (like I’m doing with you but happily ready to admit I am, though still doing it anyway). You post did not use much ‘mind’ since there was little in it that really contributed or took a lot of thought to put it together.

      My main gripe is this, if you are not going to contribute anything worth reading and just waste my time, then don’t say anything. I want to learn, but you are not debating, you are just heckling.
      ‘In love and sincerety’
      Ben

    • Stephen Wolfe

      Based on your criteria of the “theologically dangerous” I suppose you would have to place John Owen, Richard Baxter, Oliver Cromwell, Thomas Beard, Hugh Peters and others involved in the English Civil War (who were equally as worried from signs of Anglian Arminianism as they were from their Romanism) in the theologically dangerous camp. Or what about Luther who crushed the Peasant’s Rebellion dominated by Anabaptists? The Protestant heritage is one of fighting for good theology in the Church of Christ.

      This article only impresses people who lack any introspection concerning the extent to which the Enlightenment and post-modernism has affected their worldview. It seems from your article that we should all be “little Erasmus” taking the moderate “moral high-ground” over disputes and error. Or we should all be Olivia Cromwell, not the Oliver sort. You’ve missed that there is a masculinity to Christianity not this silly feminine sensitivity.

      I’m sure that Charles Finney, Billy Sunday, CS Lewis and Dwight Moody would agree wholeheartedly with you. And wouldn’t you also have to label John MacArthur, James R. White, Van Til, Paul Washer, and many, many other as “theologically dangerous.” You really need to rethink this post. I’d like to see you name names of those you think are theologically dangerous.

    • Juan Carlos

      @ Ben. You spelled “sincerity” wrong 🙂

    • C Michael Patton

      Steven,

      I don’t have many names in mine. It is more of the Internet theologians who exibit such traits. Anyone who is ungracious, ungentle, and unrespectful in their dialogue. However, this has to be coupled with a know it all mentality and the inability to distinguish between essentials and non-essentials. Theological beligerance is another way to put it.

      I don’t really know if they guys you mentioned fit the mold as their culture and way of dialogue was much different than ours is today. However, if they were ungracous and disrespectful, there is not really any excuse.

      Having said that, this does not mean that God does not use those who are on the theological legalistic dark side. He uses all of us in spite of ourselves. If he did not, he would have to just use angels!

      Martin Burcer is a great example of humility that I have always respected. So is John Owen. Calvin had a very gracious spirit. Augustine was tremendous.

    • Dave

      How likely,(or unlikely) is it that individuals could go from “theologically ignorant” to “theologically transformed” without being “dangerous” at some point? I’m willing to deal with the danger to take the journey myself, and I’m also committed to tolorate the danger of others as they make the journey. Great Post! I think most of us see ourselves fitting into the “danger” zone at some point in our Christian growth.

    • C Michael Patton

      By the way, I hope it is obvious how much I love theology. After all, I have build the world’s only theological coffee shop. And, my has “I love dead theologians” on the side.

      I just pray that we are making efforts in our teaching to make sure that people bypass the dark side. Again, I think the more theologically astute someone is, the more humble they should be. Unfortunately, this is not always so. Hense, posts like this.

    • Ben

      @JuanCarlos
      lol. Yeah. kinda killed it didn’t it?

    • Juan Carlos

      I hear you though. I’ll try to be more gracious and more in depth next time. Thanks for the feed back. After a second look my tone could have used more love in it

    • Ben

      @CMP
      Will you consider opening a Credo House here in England (UK)?

    • Linda Johnson

      Theology’s real dark side is that it is not a two-edged sword, it is not living, it is not the power of God unto salvation. It is not ever these things; only the word of God is these things. Theology offers the quick and dirty, cheatsheet, Cliff’s Notes way to “know” God, yet it’s just man’s take on what God has said. Theology is too often the knowledge that puffs up, especially when it’s accompanied by unconfessed and unforsaken intellectual pride, like the Great Men it idolizes, and puffed up people usually lack a godly fear of harming others.

    • C Michael Patton

      If I were Satan in a world were people were either ignorant of theology or theologically astute and arrogant, I would be in heaven as both option accomplish much for the kingdom of darkness: ignorance or arrogance are both tools in the hand of the dark side.

    • Selah

      This post has “shut my mouth!” – but not until I say:
      “Heresy is ‘the dark side of heresy.'”

    • I uhhh… definitely need this reminder… =) Hah!

      Great post!

    • C Michael Patton

      Ben, definitely! Credo in the UK would be amazing.

    • Angie

      I know what you mean by the dark side of theology. You come out of it much wiser and stronger. But the devil is still there sitting on his throne so life is still not complete bliss neither is it easy. Can’t wait for Christ to return to tear down the devils throne that this world still allows him to sit in.

    • Ben

      @CMP Yeah it would. We have way too much ignorance in the UK (myself included as the wife pointed out!;))

      I am serious by the way about a Credo House in the UK. I would love that, I want to find a way of setting up a system of getting churches here to do TTP. I got plans. The UK church needs this badly.

    • Leonard C.

      Thanks for the article, Michael! Reminds me of what I was in my “cage stage” (as Phil Johnson calls it).

    • Btw, just a word about Swendenborg, he can be brilliant at moments, but he was a mystic more than a biblical Christian, and simply and certainly Monarchist rather than Trinitarian. But reading Arcana Coelestia is always interesting. But certainly one needs to be well grounded biblically & theologically before reading him.

    • Jeff Ayers

      The person from the dark side: A critical person who criticizes others positions finding fault in nearly all that is done.

      The person who is enlightened and spiritually mature: The critic of the critic.

      Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

    • C Michael Patton

      Good one Jeff!

      But there is a difference in chronic criticism and acute criticism. Therein the difference lies.

    • Now that things I have cooled down a bit, I just wanted to note, that I did not see CMP’s piece as an attack on Theology, myself. But more a statement towards those that write somewhat “theologically” in an indiscriminate manner. Indeed we are all on something of a theological learning curve. Some of us have theological education, and some do not. But the point is that aspect and reality to learning, and I think personally the more we learn, the more we are really humbled by the whole depth of the doctrine of God.

    • DeWayne

      This all reminds me how after many years of scripture (reading), a verse finally struck me as amazing in how I had read over it so many times before it’s simplicty was understood.

      This was 1 Cor 2:14-15 “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

    • Theodore A. Jones

      Patton,
      Loving theology is not also loving God. “You shall not have any other gods beside Me.”

    • Theo,

      You just don’t get it! The whole study, doctrine and mystery of God, is not really an intellectual thing alone, as it is a so called “existential” reality – note that is not just a conceptual thing, which appears where you are stuck! As Jesus said, here is “spirit and truth”.

    • Steve Martin

      There’s good theology, and bad theology.

      The bad tries to insert our wills into the picture. The good keeps Christ and His gospel and Sacraments at the center…even when it is uncomfortable.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      Robert,
      I don’t get it? Well well I guess I struck a nerve. Friar Tuck isn’t it you who taught little Billy Morris to call you father inspite of the fact that God has commanded little Billy not to call any man on earth father? What did you also teach little Billy to do? Blow Gabriel’s horn. There seems to be a lot of news about people lately who teach little boys to call them father who also teach those litttle boys to blow a horn too. And they know theology inside and out just as you do.

    • C Michael Patton

      Theo,

      I am really willing to work with you here. But here is what I need from you to stay active on this blog: follow the 10/1 rule. Ten positive comment for every criticism. Right now it is just the opposite. You have to gain an audience before people will listen to you. I know you mean well and you think what you say is correct. But you can’t voice every criticism and expect an audience. And you cannot speak to people with such biligerance and follow Peter and Paul’s admonishment toward gentleness and respect.

      If you post another criticism (warranted or not) in your next ten posts you will unfortunately be banned. And in the five years I have had this blog I have only banned 6 people. Distinguished? Yes. Glorifying to God? I don’t think so.

      Please my brother?

    • Bruce D Hunter

      I agree, there is a dark side to theology and that dark side exsist when the theology we teach gets in the way of the grace of God. When we use are theology to condemn rather than exhort. The bible teaches that there is turth that can be taught in love and without hypocracy

    • Karen

      THANK YOU for the topic message. I totally agree and appreciate your words. Perhaps some of us become OCD on doctrines is that we did not discern in the beginning of our confusion/quest that we were victims of arguments and un-reconcilation because of the vast denominations that have separated from each other. Perhaps we were even overwhelmed by the hostility we received not even knowing that we offended anyone by asking a question about a certain doctrine. But I have discovered in so many ways we are wrestling with things that are too high above us. I think the best teachers are those that can deliver to another the whole Bible and not just part of it. For I do not know of too many churches that are getting their views OUTSIDE of the Bible, but rather from the Bible. If we were gracious enough, we would understand each other. Even more, we should be ruled by the Holy Spirit. That is where True Revelation is and our very Peace. God bless you!

    • Ed Babinski

      “Theological” connections are far from rational. One might as well study sympathetic magic. What if Jesus’ didn’t die from having his blood shed but was hung, drowned, poisoned or electrocuted? And how does death lead to forgiveness? And why should everybody be doomed to eternal punishment simply by virtue of being born a primate on planet earth? And I haven’t even brought up the “trinity.” http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2010/08/trinity-three-states-of-water-bill.html

    • C Michael Patton

      Ed, thanks for stopping by. But your comment had nothing to do with the post. Please read the rules and stay on topic. Or maybe you thought you were commenting on another post? Either way, good to see you!

    • Linda Johnson

      Ignorance of the word of God is dangerous and very useful to satan. But ignorance of the word of Calvin or Augustus C Toplady is a blessing, not a danger. You say many things that are worth reading, although I am not a Calvinist. But did you ever think, the whole promotion of the intellectual traditions of men as this heady, exciting thing, when it ought to be sober and humble instead, is part of the problem? You give way too much credit to the thoughts of mere men, when we ought to be looking away from the thoughts of man and to the word of God. And loving theology? If you mean that you love good, sound doctrine, this is goid, but “theology” as a whole? What’s to love? The whole discipline? Doing theology? If a little leaven leavens the whole lump, theology is a seriously compromised lump. Apparently “sola scriptura” means some arcane thing that is above my head, since it apparently does not mean that we look to the Bible alone as our authority, or look to God to show us by His Spirit what He wants to show us in His word, as in, you have no need of a teacher. (I believe in listening to teachers, but we must try what we are told by comparing with the word of God, ourselves–like the noble Bereans. Teachers are responsible for what they teach, but we are responsible for what we believe). I guess that I am just this twice-bitten, badly-burned one who learned the difference in following and trusting God (as if He is real) and getting ensnared in the thoughts and teachings of ambitious men who purport to be the only way to understand “sola scriptura,” although again, I guess I do not understand the way that term is used. That’s OK; I prefer what I thought it meant. Theology is the thoughts of man about God, nothing less than that, but nothing more, and it is ignoring the advice of the Lord to elevate the thoughts of man so much, into a virtual Bible that must be adhered to and obeyed! Yet everyone wants to seem intellectually credible, so they talk about theology as if it was the word of God once removed. But it is not. It does not have the power of the word of God, but is loaded with dangerous error. The moment it gets away from sober, trusting faith in Jesus Christ and the word of God, it is harmful. Tell that to the swaggering boys of theology and they ROFLOL. Yet, it is the hireling who doesn’t care when the wolf approaches; the good Shepherd or good undershepherd is not so flippant about it. I just cringe at the word “theology” when I hear it, but I realize there is a necessary component to it. It is our restatement of what we believe God is saying, kind of like recitation in study. We put what we believe God is saying in our own words. Then we need to humiliate, or humble, our own words, and realize that truth is not going to ever belong to our words in the way that it does to God’s word. We can’t put our own words on the same level and we shouldn’t think that the Cliff Notes version offered by theologians is ever adequate. We are all fallen sinners and, as such, we are all dangerous.

    • L Johnson

      Sorry, but I meant to add that the reason we should not enjoy theology as this heady thing is that its subjects are the issues of life, the most important ones. As such, the dangers of misleading someone are so serious, and the chance that error will be perpetuated, written in stone for someone, when it should never be.

    • David Van Lant

      “theologically transformed”–kind of a strange concept. Being theologically dangerous is a universal affliction as far as I can tell. Fortunately, some recover from it.

    • Bob Anderson

      Very good article. I like the idea of “theological humiliation.” It teaches us that our knowledge of God is rather tentative, that we simply do not know completely what is unknowable and much of what we do know is simply opinion, even if learned opinion.

      To pretend we know all things is something I grew out of long ago, when I realized how broad theological study was, and how minute theology itself was in the vast range of knowledge and information out there. The more I study, the more I realize how small my range of understanding is.

      Theologians are model builders. We take the data we have and work to integrate it into a whole paradigm. To pretend that my theology is absolute is like pretending a car made of Legos is a real Ferrari. It does not matter what we want it to be, it is still just a toy, just an imperfect, rough model of the real thing. I think we need to see our theology as such. It is not that theology is not important, but it is imperfect because we cannot see all there is to see about the object we are modeling, which is God himself.

    • Tim Kimberley

      Great post Michael. Thank you!

    • J.R. Cannedy

      That was a good reminder for me Michael. As you know I have taken many classes from you over the years and at times I myself have fallen into the dark side. I get excited while leading a bible study and my excitement sometimes may come across as arrogant and possibly condescending. I’m very passionate for people to know the God of the bible and to see and understand the plan of redemption and the beauty of God in Christ and if they don’t get excited it’s like, Hello this is God we’re talking about! I need to check my passion and just help those who don’t quite understand the text before us.

      Thank you again for the reminder and Merry Christmas to you, Tim, and Carrie.

    • drwayman

      Terrific reminders there Michael. Much appreciated.

    • Daniel Mitchell

      As one who has taught theology for almost 40 years I heartily concur with your assessment. Theology may be the backbone of our faith, but it is always subject to correction. It is never inerrant–as is the biblical text. The danger comes (as we have seen too vividly in recent weeks) when our theological reflections on the text become confused with the text itself. When this happens the person (for what are perceived as all very good reasons) has to defend his or her personal ideas about the text as if it were the text itself. Although there are likely exceptions to the rule, in most cases people paint themselves into these theological corners and feel it necessary to defend the truth–to the death if necessary. They are generally not motivated, as it were, from the “dark side.” Rather, they don’t see any other way out of the conundrum they have created for themselves by equating their ideas with biblical Truth. I think of the KJV-only advocates in this context. They have crafted a very precise understanding of how inerrancy must work in relation to copies and translations. Consequently, for them to deny their reliance on one singular translation is equivalent to denying inerrancy altogether. I guess the problem is that the “dark side” is just a “dark place” where people don’t really see things as they might if they were operating in the light.

    • Theodore A. Jones

      All theologians operate in the dark.

    • Rick

      Good post CMP. A healthy reminder for all of us.

    • Andrew T.

      I have two problems with theology: First, the ‘theologically dangerous’ as they are called here often fail to discern scriptural orthodoxy from ecclesiastical orthodoxy, thus most theology is nothing more than a tradition itself (a mere artefact of hermeneutics often wielding the full force of infallibility, lacking humility).

      Second, it diverts the attention of the faithful from Christ and true humility, onto man (even pious theologian) and false certainty. We end up naming ourselves after Wesley (Wesleyan) or Calvin (Calvinist), rather than Christ (Christian). This is no different than claiming our baptism in Cephas or Apollos [1 Cor 1:12][1 Cor 3:22].

      Christ alone has perfect theology. As far as I know, the Bible alone records it. Everything else is defective, and we be humble to remember that.

    • orval

      I could not help wondering as I read the article what we are to do with Proverbs 26:5? It would seem that even Jesus answered the foolish and he did it without arrogance. To say that one is arrogant and pompous as opposed to one who lacks the correct set of words for the discussion at hand may be due to misunderstanding the person instead of he or she missundestanding the scripture. Also by what criterea do you establish a person is arrogant as opposed to blunt or confident? Last I read 🙂 the Holy Spirit will continue to do a work in us untill the day we are taken home.

      Lord Jesus bless you

    • This is for our so-called friend Mr. Theo: As regards being hated for being and speaking Christian truth, we can surely expect this, as our Lord said: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15: 18) As a conservative Anglican Christian myself, many of my liberal Anglican friends have certainly come to dislike me and my teaching, and really not a few also so-called evangelical “emergents”. This is again to be expected, if we are going to stand near the Holy Scripture, and the historical biblical and theological truth, therein. But it is quite another to be hated or disliked, because one might be simply narrow-minded & bigoted! It appears Theo that you border on the latter. I fear this is twofold, first your person/personality, just nasty mate! But ever more important, your lack both biblically and theologically! WE can only hope & pray you come into the Light of both God’s Word & Spirit! Which btw, expresses Christian love in all circumstances! We can never outrun the need of Christian mercy and love in and from ourselves!

    • Stew Sutton

      If our increasing understanding of theology does not take us down a path of humility, then we must check the barometer of our hearts. Do we prioritize being “right” over living in service toward others. Mark 12:30-31 and Matthew 5:43-44

    • John Bailey

      Excellent post Michael. Thank you.

    • Stuart Hawkes

      I will hold my breath, plug my nose, and dive into this discussion…

      I found this to be an excellent and insightful article, and the discussion to follow wildly interesting. Irony of all ironies, every one of us (myself included) who chooses to engage in this discussion is risking being theologically dangerous. Mr. Patton reports a phenomenon he has observed and we all toot our horns in agreement, clarification, or criticism. In doing so, we have engaged in stating or reinforcing a classification, stereotype, or observation. This necessarily elevates ourselves to the position of judge, which is one of the characteristics of the theologically dangerous, as so many have astutely pointed out.

      Theology is a tool, and in my limited study, it has brought me to a place of greater awe and reverence for God the Father, Jesus the Savior, and life with the Holy Spirit. But just like any other tool, if theology is taken with the wrong heart, and is used for anything other than the glorification of God, it can become a terrible weapon.

      We are all capable of being theologically dangerous, and probably most of us have been theologically dangerous at one time or another. However, my hope is that as we enjoy this discussion and article, we remain open to being theologically humiliated, which will bring us back to the essential truth that God is and always will be the main point.

      I love hearing everyone’s insights and opinions. Thanks.

      • C Michael Patton

        Stuart. That was an extremely we’ll written and humble comment. May your tribe increase.

    • John Metz

      Michael, it seems that you cannot resist poking the hornet’s nest with a stick! Great post.

      Our generic lack as followers of our Lord is that it is relatively easy for us to learn “theological” things but it is much more difficult to live out that which we have gained through our salvation. As an example, although I knew many things about Brazil, I really had no idea what Brazil was like until I spent some time there and actually experienced Brazil (at least in part). My facts were not necessarily wrong but at best were only meager images of the real place. So it is often with theology. We can learn quickly but need some seasoning before our apprehension grows.

      I am sure we all have been (and may be still) guilty of being theologically dangerous.

    • Joseph

      @ CMP: Lol!! @ Stuart: said it way better than I did!

    • Btw, “theological humiliation” is sometimes thought to incur when one changes his “theological” position or positions. But, sadly theological position changes all too often with some, and never with others. Seeking to strike that balance “biblically” is always the issue, “theologically”. Wow! My head hurts now! I am somewhat kidding, but really seeking to be pliable must always be done before the Lord, and sometimes only the bare Word of God itself will change us! And then later, we might understand the “theology” of that change. I hope that makes some sense? Indeed “theology” again is a learning curve, and hopefully we are always learning as Christians! But, may we always be able to say as St. Paul did: “For to me to live is Christ..” (Phil. 1:21).

      We should note and remember, that the “doctrine & dogma” of the Trinity of God for example, was hammered out in the Church itself, though surely the essence of it it was always there in the NT and Apostolic Church! My point in all this is that theology is, or should be a very humbling experience, for our God is certainly as Barth said, the Totally Other!

    • C Michael Patton

      Fr.

      Great word: “But, sadly theological position changes all too often with some, and never with others.”

      Now I might draft you to blog with us if you keep that up.

    • Thanks Michael! Just running along with your post really. I have to admit that I have changed my “theological” positions at times, but not without great strain! Indeed “theology” is sometimes work, and then all of a sudden it is as you have written, a great and grand “transformation”, but hopefully always bound by what Christ Himself said: “in spirit and truth”, both orthodoxy & orthopaxy in combination. As our Lord said here is “worship”!

    • Eagle

      I think we need to remember that grace is a myth and doesn’t exist. Being “theologically dangerous” means taking a Bible and beating the %^$# out of someone in the name of doctrine. Its how Christianity is today, and its one of the reasons why I walked. Everyone walks around with 110% certainty – even on the minor issues. God forbid if your life hits the shitter then you have to deal with people who tell you its due to sin, or that its God’s will. I really don’t know why I read some of your posts from time to time. I’ve had enough of fundamentalism and hyper reformed crap to last me for lifetimes….

    • DeWayne

      The thought struck me that this ‘theology’ is being discussed as though it were engraved in stone, yet as most ‘interpretations’ in matters by man, upon specific teaching often found with many (perhaps divergent) understanding.

      A case in point with my own ‘transition’ was the common belief concerning a Millennium, from scripture based primarily from Revelation-20. Speaking not of one but two ‘Thousand’, with the Greek ‘Chilioi’ found singularly only 8-times in the entire NT, 6-times in Rev-20 and 2-times in 2Peter 3:8.

      As a theological subject, try with prayer reading my study article found at webpage:
      http://rtpricetag.home.comcast.net/~rtpricetag/Millennium.html

      Theology then has place as additionally commanded, testing ‘everything’ against the word of God for validity.

    • @Eagle: But grace & mercy do exist, fully in the face & person of Christ Jesus! HE has promised never to leave us nor forsake us! Indeed this world is fallen and evil, but Christ is the Victor and even the victory here!

    • Btw, it might surprise many here, but I am Historic Pre-Mill, and close somewhat to even the PD, or Progressive Dispensationalism. And yes, it is true that I lived and taught in Israel in the late 90s. And yes, I am Pro-Israel, and somewhat a “Biblical” Zionist. I say this with great humility however, for I have changed my position here over the years, having been both A-Mill, and Post-Mill. So I must walk quietly, and I do. We all must be pliable on the eschatological. 🙂

    • DeWayne

      Fr Robert
      Your statement of being somewhat Biblical “Zionist” entices me to share my research concerning the origin of Zionism, being rejected by Jewish leaders of year-1897 based upon Zionist Congress purpose in contradiction of vow’s taught from Torah.

      Click on my name being a link to my webpage research-article.

    • Ben

      In doing so, we have engaged in stating or reinforcing a classification, stereotype, or observation. This necessarily elevates ourselves to the position of judge, which is one of the characteristics of the theologically dangerous, as so many have astutely pointed out.

      Could someone please explain the assertion that engaging in this discussion puts us in the position of being theologically dangerous as has previously been stated? How else are we to learn?
      Would there not be a distinction between being a judge of others actions and being judgmental of others actions? I think the key is in the ‘mental’ part. Being judgmentally minded then, is surely not the same as making a judgment communally with our brothers and sisters as we are doing in fellowship here. We can say ‘person ‘A’ is living in sin and this is an example of it, lets avoid it because this passage of scripture says its wrong’ thats making a judgement. Or we can say ‘Hey person ‘A’, you are a sinner and you need to repent or be damned!’ thats being judgmental no? Being judgmental is a personality flaw and a state of mind, constantly going around looking for others faults and pointing them out. Making a right, theologically based judgment and following it is a strength. In respect of this post, I feel like CMP has simply pointed out what many of the more mature people here seem to recognize, because its a phase they have also been through. I don’t think it was judgmental at all. Some of the follow on comments were judgmental, like mine to Juan Carlos, sorry Juan, I did go over the top.
      Ben

    • DeWayne: Yes, I am very familiar with the rejections of the Orthodox Jews towards Zionism, both so-called Modern and before. The Jews in Modern Israel today are a very mixed bag certainly. But for Christians we must be concerned with the Covenant/covenants and promises to Israel. God has simply not fulfilled all of them. (Rom. 11: 28, etc.)

    • TMAN

      Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a light saber. – Matt 10:34

      Fight the good fight, folks!

    • C Michael Patton

      And choose your battles wisely?

      As far as it depends on you be at peace with every man…

    • C Michael Patton

      Fr.

      A PD??!! Forget the blog. Now we need to talk about getting you your own Credo House!

    • edavis

      Someone made a comment about their theological position changing from time to time. As one who has read the Bible from childhood, and studying it for 20+ years, I must admit that the most humbling thing in the world for me is to admit that you have me in check theologically. That is very humbling especially if you have been at it a long time. I can be wrong about anything else in life-but not about the Bible. I honestly shutter at the thought of being in error about some point in scripture, and I’m sure that I am, but I’m just not sure where. I not as concerned about not knowing it all (although something in me really does want to know it all), but that which I so confidently affirm, must be a clear understanding of absolute truth, otherwise I am no different than a cult leader or heretic! I know it is a pride thing, which is the reason why I must stay humble. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble as Peter said. Lord knows I need his grace! Pride is a dangerous thing and so subtle, especially in theology – ask Satan!

    • Brandon E

      Michael, great post. Very thoughtful.

      The way I see it is that if we understand theology simply as “the study of God” then obviously such study is indispensable. However, theology, while close to God, is not God Himself. Hence, like anything that is not God Himself, it can become a substitute or replacement for Him in our experience. And because theology is not something evil but rather something good and close to God, it makes for a more subtle replacement for Him than, say, sin or worldliness.

      I believe that that Bible reveals that spiritual growth and transformation is a matter of Christ Jesus Himself actually making His home in our inward being through faith (Eph. 3:17). The real peril, especially for those of us with a mental or intellectual bent, is that while we are still short in the real experience of this, we would mistake the mere increase of doctrinal information and outward understanding in the mind for genuine maturity in Christ.

    • brian foulks

      Is this not the very thing that you spoke about with some of the other theologian?They read books and start their heresy hunts that in essence defame a person that is really much like them..

    • LynnOKC

      The truth of what you’ve written has played out in my life (sadly, more than once). I’ve been that theological snob waxing eloquent about the doctrines of grace…while negating said doctrine with every arrogant word.

      I think if any of us who love studying theology were honest, we’d have to admit our tendency toward being dangerous. It is hard not to be a bit incredulous when one realizes just how biblically and doctrinally illiterate our world has become.

      Balancing that incredulity and knowledge (just a smidgen in my case) with humility and love is a feat only accomplished by the Holy Spirit. Left to ourselves we ARE truly dangerous.

    • Camille Sobalvarro

      This is such an important statement. Well said, appropriately pointed, but humbly delivered. One of the things I most appreciate is that you didn’t call-out individuals, which would be esay to do, but could indicate a haute spirit… and begin to number you among the theologically dangerous, who ALWAYS feel the need to get personal.  While I claim no high level of spiritual maturity, I definitely have observed this curve at work in my own life. As a yong believer I was slow to call-out others because I felt like EVERYONE knew more than me. But as my knowledge grew, passion grew too, which is good, BUT resulted in a faith that started to develope threads of arrogance. Beyond this though, I suddenly began to see how often my earlier knowledge proved wrong, how often God changed my heart on things I thought I knew for sure. I began to learn that, as right as I think I am now, I may later be humbled by newer deeper insights. I’ve come to believe one of the most important truths we must hold onto as theologeans is that “I could be wrong.” Truth is found only in God, and we cannot fully comprehend Him. We must trust and follow.

    • Michael: Yeah, I had me an Irish greatgram as a boy in Ireland, she was among the so-called PB’s or “Brethren”. So I have been exposed to Dispensationalism for a long time. I even like to read the one-time Anglican, E.W. Bullinger! Now there was a “biblicist”! 😉 During a visit to see my then American Marine brother, back in late 80’s? I met Robert Saucy, and later read his book: The Case For Progressive Dispensationalism, etc. The book really opened my eyes back then, but too with Bock & Blaising’s book on the PD (plus my trip back to combat, and Gulf War 1, in my 40’s I might add, and seeing Israel up close in that whole affair), I really began to dig. That whole time was very providential! And then later my few years in Israel, in the late 90’s.

      Wow, me and a Credo House? Sounds grand! I only need time, and again God’s grace and providence! Note, both of my son’s were born in my 40’s also (15 and 21, almost 22 next month). Our 15 year old lives with us, but my oldest is in college in the UK. Yeah I was a late bloomer with kids! (Pray for me! lol)

    • Btw, I posted this on my own wee blog, but I thought it might go well here on this post? Allow me..

      “Human praise and human blame are mostly valueless, because men know not the whole which they praise or blame.” (Sermon quote, from the Anglican, E.B. Pusey)

    • DeWayne

      Those of Old Covenant God calls His upright and righteous, having held strong to the faith obedient to God, will see all of their promises (though 1st Covenant broken) fulfilled through their Messiah.

      Those of New Covenant God calls His righteous through the same Messiah Christ, will see all their promises fulfilled through Christ. [Roman 3:27-30]

    • Jeff Ayers

      The article almost implies that we are to be timid and even scared to proclaim the truth. “Milquetoasts”. And it implies we should approach everyone with a plea, asking permission to give them Biblical doctrine. Like Oliver timidly asking for more gruel.

      The following are the two “Top Ten Lists” I try to hold to and avoid (respectively) when presenting biblical truth and doctrine.

      BE:
      1. Precise
      2. Poignant
      3. Forthright
      4. Bold
      5. Clear thinking
      6. Plain speaking
      7. Doesn’t mince words
      8. Confident
      9. Concise
      10. Direct

      DON’T [BE]:
      1. Arrogant
      2. Condescending
      3. Close minded
      4. Refuse to hear the person out
      5. Critical without understanding
      6. Talk over them while they are speaking
      7. Use high sounding words or concepts to obfuscate the issue (and make them feel stupid)
      8. Speak faster or more verbose to cover up your ignorance of the subject
      9. Use clichés you learned from your mentors to eviscerate the person
      10. Refuse to admit that you may be wrong!!!!!

      “First Understand, then Persuade” (Understand their position and terminology, then you can help them out of their darkness or refute their position.)

    • Nathaniel

      Wow, I am that person. I wish I could of skipped the teenage season, but it is what it is.

    • Duane

      I would suggest that if there is a “dark” side to theology it is embracing errant theology in the name of “orthodoxy.” This creates division, fragmenting the Body, dishonoring the Lord.

    • Waldean

      Great thought-provoking post. I think “the dark side” is inevitable. It’s filled with born-again, maturing folks that are also filled with self (I suppose this is everyone to some extent). It’s completely foreign for us to be become humble, loving, prayer-filled, dependent servants of Jesus.

    • Stephen

      I have been there

    • Cade

      This post is spot on, coming from an Indepent Fundermental Baptist background you become judgemental. I am thankful that God took me out of that movement and that you would write on these topics that do more damage to believers than good. God is is still moving that stuff out of my system after 13 yes., keep up the good work…

    • Jeremy

      Great post. I do like the title but also might call it “The Dark Side of Armchair Theologians”.

    • DeeJay

      What? That was the whole article? DRAT! It started out so well versed I thought it was going to make a useful point, not illustrate what a rant sounds like coming from a theologian at the peak of the graph’s ark!
      How disappointing.

    • mbaker

      I don’t see honest disagreement among Christians as criticism per se, but I do see a trend of legalism nowadays in the more theologically aware, who can quote their seminary teachers, their favorite Christian authors, or use their public blogs etc; as an excuse to be ugly to their fellow man.

      That seems highly condescending and off putting to me, although I am not of the other extreme either, that we can just write off bad theology in the name of Christian love.

      Seems to me the church nowadays is caught between the extremes, and that is not good for advancing the gospel.

    • Daniel Brady

      CMP, Excellent article. As one who often considers myself to be a theological “watchdog,” I try, pray, and hope not to be one who is theologically dangerous. I appreciate the fact that you said the theologically mature “tighten their grip on the main things and loosen their grip on others.” What I find disturbing is the fact that many people cannot agree on what the main things are. What I consider to be a main thing, someone else doesn’t think to be a main thing. Others make main things out of what I would consider to be secondary.

      I like to think I am humble enough to agree to disagree over secondary issues. What I find to be more of a challenge is having a proper level of humility while at the same time tenaciously holding on to the main things.

      Daniel

    • Donna B

      Theology to me is the study of God. Period..no light – no dark…just study that strengthens my already firm belief in Him. I love to study it all! My greatest desire is to be more like Christ every single day, to see others through his eyes, love as He loved and to trust him to lead me down the paths he has chosen just for me. Guess what…it is working! Love reading any of these articles. It is all interesting but my faith in God remains the same.

    • Donna B

      Theology to me is simply learning more about God and taking from it only what deepens my faith. I already believe His word. I have already experienced his influence and indications of the design for my life. I dont think Theology is dark or light. It is simply theology, a study. The only dark I know was my sin. My only desire is to be more like Christ now. I study hoping to find more of Him. To see others through his eyes and love others as He has loved me… and try to become more like him every single day with the wisdom from Him to do it. I trust Him, I know I don’t understand it all, I try to acknowledge him in all things, and I try to follow the paths he leads me on with constant prayer. It is working for me. I love Christ and what He has done for me…no matter what theology may or may not say. I just know it.

    • Tony

      The “Cancel All My Meetings” graphic is a riot!

      One time in seminary, I volunteered to present an argument against the Regulative Principle (another student did a presentation in favor of it). One dude *destroyed* me in class because he so vehemently held to the RP. HOWEVER, he also contacted me after class and apologized. Sometimes, people need a little time to process things. I’ve learned that if you teach theology, be prepared for this. Understanding what’s core and what’s not core is a “slow cook” process. Sometimes, I realize I’m still in the crock pot. It happens. God works with us at different speeds.

    • DeWayne

      To often theology is the acceptance of anothers interpretation concerning Gods word, yet verse not only warns of validating with Gods word the Bible, but tells how this word (in text form) is discerned for the seeker by the HS within.

      The Bible for those with the HS is not an intellectual read, instead the word tells us the HS enables this discernment, at the same time Gods word is open to the most common.

      In this respect it is not the babe in the Lord that is dangerous, but false teacher and prophet leading astray the seeker of truth. The most important, certainly verse telling of renewing of the mind while constant in the word of God, leading and enabling true wisdom and knowledge.

      Within the true church are gifts that with all doing their part leads all into unity and maturity. Viewing our present age, it appears we need fewer theological institute, and more seeker of truth (in) the word of God.

    • Christopher

      I have made the journey you describe. It was painful; it was my own personal calvary. This incessant study of God seems to me like geologists incessantly studying rocks but never enjoying the view. The study of rocks may enhance ones respect for the forces responsible for creating the mountains but it can never replace the experience of awe, wonder and love as one experiences the mountain views. The mountain cannot exist without the rocks and forces of nature, but awe and wonder of the mountain’s beauty and splendor exists without any knowledge of rock and tectonics.

      In the same way we could not know of God without the knowledge of his revealed attributes and character. And worship may never enter there. But true wonder, worship and love surely exists in the breast of the man or woman who experience God without knowing any theology at all. That is why we are told we must be like children to enter the kingdom and he calls the children into himself. The one who embraces theology will be dissapointed; but the one who embraces God himself will come to know him and survive every dissapoint life brings.

      I no longer believe i have God all figured out or that he has revealed ALL that he is – we see through a glass datkly. But one day we will know him and be with him and all of our theology will melt away…

    • DeWayne

      Christopher…
      I would not dicourage anyone from keeping within (study) of Gods word, not only for spiritual discernment in renewing our (natural) mind, although as yourself having strong concern of much scholarly teaching’s and institution’s.

      Most important is learning with HS guidance to know what is predestined in recognition of ourselves, and certainly in relation to fulfilling God’s purpose.

      Most discouraging for myself was actually finding ‘textual’ errors within the Bible, most egregious was the false teaching and prophecy from others having either themselves been misled, or serving a lesser purpose and god.

      At this time the Christian church evidences not overly studying God’s word, but from accepting false teaching while not validating everything within Gods word as admonished.

      May we accept all teachings because we do not fully know God, if one has lack of needed knowledge, the promise is that it will be forthcoming. In this condition the best test of truth is in the telling. In time holding fast in faith and constantly within Gods word, in time the truth will prove itself.

      There is no dark part or portion in studying God’s word, the failure or error only is holding to false teaching and prophecy as such is revealed. Instead we need press forward in what we have, adding truth as it proves itself in Gods word. Never fearing discovery that what part we had accepted, is later proven in error, this also a part of learning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.