Where Does Bad Theology Come From?

Bible, study (2)Yesterday, I listened to a video broadcast from a former pastor apologizing to gay and transgendered people on behalf of evangelicals because of the “Nashville Statement.” He went on to chastise the authors of the statement for building walls instead of bridges to lost people and even went as far as to register disagreement with the “statement” itself. He went as far as to say that these leaders had no right to cast judgment on the sexual sins they spoke to. How does a pastor get to that place?

Where does bad theology come from?

I wish this was the only occasion I had heard such foolishness. Unfortunately, it is pretty prevalent in a world where a person has the ability to publish every weird thought they have ever had on a wall or blog site. In fact, if they have a graphics design or marketing background, they’ll even look credible in their presentation. It does lead one to ask, “How can people believe that?” and further, “Where does this crazy thinking come from?”

Lack of training:

For some, the error is in a lack of training. They are self-educated and have never sat under formal teaching or worse, they have limited training…enough exposure to be “dangerous.” While formal teaching is not always required, it is helpful. If you don’t know the difference between genres, you might attribute the authority of the ten commandments to a parable taught by Jesus or the poetry of the Old Testament. Doing so can lead one down a scary path. If you can’t understand biblical languages, you are at the mercy of the translators of your version of the Bible. If you’ve never been guided to think on things like biblical theology, systematic theology, and their role in theological understanding, you are as equipped to interpret Scripture as a man navigating the woods without a compass. If you get where you needed to be, its only by luck.

Lack of humility:

This may be related to the training but it doesn’t have to be. You can be WELL TRAINED and choose to ignore every rational thought your teachers ever offered. Further, self-directed studies are not bad. I encourage them. I also caution people to read a good diet of scholars. If you are the first person to think the thoughts you have, be careful. It may be that someone thought them before and they were wrong then too, so they were abandoned. If getting to your position means ignoring or abandoning sound exegetical principles, you’re likely headed the way of charlatans and heretics. This doesn’t mean that if the majority of scholars disagree with your views, that you’re wrong, but a humble man will pause and ask why others disagree and seek to understand their position.

Lack of peace:

Unfortunately, this is a major source. A man’s son declares he is gay, so the man’s theology shifts toward inclusivity because his heart is wrenched over the son’s eternal prospects, and cannot bear the thoughts of the judgment of his son. A Christian’s child professes Christ as a small child but has no fruit of a repentant life, and dies. The Christian cannot bear the thought that their child may be lost, so they create a theology to give their child another chance in hopes that it gives them peace in the dark hours of life. False peace never begets genuine godly peace.

Lack of holiness:

Sometimes our own sins reign in our hearts and we develop a theological viewpoint where we are “ok” and traditional understandings of theology must be wrong. The examples of this are too plentiful to mention.

Spiritual opposition:

Let’s not forget that the enemy is alive, active, prowling about, and looking for people to destroy. Genesis 3 records the first temptation of man where the enemy introduced a false understanding of God and man “bought it.” Yes…the first book and the first section following the Creation Account. Yep! The enemy’s planting of false theological understandings leads us off as the source of all sin!

Are there protections?

Of course! God gives us Scripture which is our most reliable source of revelation. God gives us the Holy Spirit to bring truth to mind. He gives us accountability through the local church community that serves to keep us in check while we also help others keep from straying into error. God gives us wisdom…to think about the motives of our own wicked hearts and grace to run to Him for help and hope.

Will these protections always guard us? No. We are industrious and resourceful people that can blow it even with a thousand protections in place. But, a life of humility before God and constant pursuit of Him as He reveals Himself to be in His Word and within the community of faith, we will find a pathway to truth and a gracious Guide for the journey.

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Distractions…

distractionsI was on my way to church on a Sunday morning to preach. For no apparent reason, my mind flooded back many years to conversations with a man who hates me. He wouldn’t say that. He would say that he doesn’t like me or that he thinks I am not a good pastor or the right man for his church or some other form of the thought…but the bottom line is, he hates me. I get that. I have tried numerous times through the years to address the issue and it always ends unfulfilling and in the same place. I am not discounting his experience. He thinks I am a buzzard. I am not his former hero pastor. I get it!

In the ride to church, I am replaying the conversations over and over and saying in my mind all the things I wish I had said back then that would make me feel better. Pulse rate up. Heart beating faster. Adrenaline flowing. Spiritual high ground-SURRENDERED.

Where do these unwelcomed and intrusive thoughts come from? Not from the man. He was nowhere to be found. Not from some recent conflict. Not even from some email or Facebook post. They are DISTRACTING TOOLS OF THE ENEMY.

The enemy wants one thing…to steal glory from God. To do that, he will stop at nothing. He will invade your mind. He will argue in your ear. If the enemy can get you to surrender the high-ground, your effectiveness in the gospel enterprise is hampered.

Not to belabor the issue, but I found this to be a recurring tactic. The “noise” of this and many other things was constantly playing in the back of my mind. It created frustration within me, which provoked me to have a shortened fuse whenever ANYTHING did not go “picture perfect.”

At this point, you’re either pushing the mouse toward the top right corner…or you’re saying, ME TOO! What did you do? 

When you are distracted or any time you face the enemy down and he seems to be winning…there is a “best” next step. RUN TO JESUS.

[What I am about to tell you will cause some to want to throw stones saying that I am boasting. God forbid! He knows my heart and I am sharing with you that my motive is not to point to ME but to share something that I hope will help YOU, when (not if) you find yourself here.]

I had to stop and fast and pray. Fasting is a discipline that I have had to embrace through the years (though some look at me and wonder if I ever truly miss a meal 🙂 . I was 2 days into a 3 day fast when I started getting clarity. Clarity about my own soul condition. Clarity about the wellspring of self-centeredness in my own heart. Clarity about the source of the distraction. Following this…repentance, renewal, and restored communion with God. Oh, and food. 🙂

Some would say, “I can’t do that. I can’t fast!” I say…if you are fighting the enemy’s onslaught…you cannot NOT fast. As hard as it is for me…God teaches me about His grace to do what I cannot otherwise find within me to do. In fact, if I could do it easily, I question if it would even work to bring me back into focus with my loving heavenly Father.

So, how is the enemy working against you? Are you successful in fighting the “good fight of faith?” If not…run to Jesus. Seriously! RUN. RUN to Jesus! There you’ll find help and hope and a fresh start.