Monday, May 2, 2011

Theology Matters

Five months ago, I met a man who swept me off my feet, right out of my simple, monotonous life of a single mom, and into a romance like none I had known. Well, a little like One I had known; in many ways, the way Jonathan loves me models the way Christ loved the church. He's awesome; I'm unworthy. And I thank God every day for him.

A lot has changed over these five months, I moved two hours south of my hometown to beautiful San Diego, CA. I changed jobs, only to lose the new job a month later. I then happily undertook the profession of stay-at-home mom for the first time ever: a dream come true.

I can't overstate how happy I am, or how grateful I am that God led me to Jonathan. There has, however, been one change in the mix that has been a challenge for me. This new season also led me to a new church, which, as the Sovereign Father would have it, is about as different as theologically possible from my last church.
Not a bad thing! Not in the least. I just set straight to work hashing out the contradicting elements of the two denominations. I have the heart of a Berean; or so I've been told, and have a tendency to "examine the scriptures every day" to see if what I'm being taught is true (Acts 17.10-11). If my life as a believer has been marked by anything, it's been this passionate adherence to the text. I am excited to see what new things I will learn from this clash of doctrines.

This journey has already led to many ideas for blog posts, so I'm planning to start a new blog for them. It will be called "Churchianity Myths" or something like that. To be honest, I'm finding flaws on both sides of the fence, so it won't be bashing any one particular school of thought. My goal is to, by the grace of God, offend no one, but only to expose the truths of scripture. I'll try to be as diligent as possible to notate my remarks with references from the text, so as never to speak solely from my unfounded opinion.

This is where good hermeneutics come in. Like Paul, Christians are to count everything as loss compared to knowing Christ. (Php 3.8) And how do we know Him? One way (the best way, perhaps?) is to know scripture. (Ps 119.10-20) Read it. Study it. Meditate on it. Let it shape your worldview.  Know it well enough that when a preacher comes along teaching something unbiblical, you can call "malarkey." (*1)

The principle here is that theology matters. Anyone who stands on a stage in front of a congregation of believers is--whether they realize it or not--preaching theology. This also puts them in authority to make claims about God, whether or not they are true. For example, if I found myself speaking at a conference on microbiology, everyone who heard me would assume that I had some sort of schooling or experience qualifying me to teach on the topic. In reality, having never taken a biology course beyond my freshman year of high school, could I shoot from the hip and say a load of stuff that sounded like I knew what I was talking about? Well sure, if I had a decent command of the English language and knew enough microbiology vocabulary, I could probably fool some folks. But the whole thing would be a lie.

So why has the Church let that happen in her pulpits? The Bereans wouldn't have bought it. But most of us Christians do! We hear sermons that claim there are "three steps to this," or "five reasons to do that," and happily take notes and adjust our lives accordingly. But by what authority are such claims made? How do we know we are not being lied to? (*2)

For me, I will always affirm Sola Scriptura. That is, the ultimate authority on truth is scripture alone: the living and active word of God. (Heb 4.12)

Footnotes:
*1 -  Even if it's nothing but a mental note in your own heart. (1 Tim 4.7; Heb 4.12; Tit 3.10)
*2 - I'm not suggest that any of this is done on purpose as in Matt 7.15. Rather I think it is the well-meaning but uneducated folks that we need to be most keenly aware of. (1 Tim 1.3-7)

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