There has been a ridiculous amount of tumult in the tumblr community about a situation that many people don’t even know much of, but yet they are still taking sides. Due to this, there has also been a resurgence of posts where people are saying that they “just want Jesus” and express their disinterest and/or disgust in theology.
I hope this post will serve as a reasonable reminder to everyone. This will probably be scattered and definitely will not be an in-depth post, but I feel that we all need to be reminded of this.
Allow me to begin with a quote from Paul Washer:
We live in a culture which basically says this, ‘I don’t want none of that doctrine stuff. I don’t want none of that theology, I just want Jesus.’ Well, theology comes from two Greek words, as you know; ‘theos’ and ‘logos’—theos being God and logos being a word or a discourse. So when you say, ‘I want Jesus, but I don’t want any of that theology stuff,’ you’re saying, ‘I want the benefits of the redemptive work of Christ, but I don’t want to discourse about God. I want a ticket to Heaven!” That’s why on many church signs that’s what Jesus is called: A ticket to Heaven.
I love my wife. But I love her now more than when I first saw her. When I first saw her she was younger. She didn’t have any lines of wisdom on her face. But I love her more now. And why do I love her more now? Because I know more of her now. I have seen more of who she is, the characteristics and attributes of her life call forth from me a devotion, and a desire, and love.
So what’s wrong with theology? Absolutely nothing! As a matter of fact, you can’t grow in your love of God without theology. If you sat down and wrote out all that you believed in, you would have a set of theological beliefs based (or not based) upon the Word of God. Those beliefs had to come from somewhere - whether it was someone who taught you (verbally or through history), something you accepted after studying Scripture yourself, or something you just assumed because of someone else’s beliefs.
It is important that you study the Bible yourself to learn more about the God you claim that you so very much want to follow. What is going to increase your love for God? Knowing who He is, His promises, and His great love for you. How do you find those things out? You study. That’s theology.
We love Him, because He first loved us. - 1 John 4:19
Yet, in our theological pursuits, we must never forget the purpose of learning these things. Our theology pushes us into knowing God and enjoying Him through a more intimate relationship with Him and others. If we don’t know what we believe, we will be swept away by anything and everything that is labeled “Christianity” and claims to be biblical.
The danger with those who study theology on a deeper level than others is that, if not careful, they will gain intellectual pride and use their knowledge to gain more knowledge in order to win fruitless theological debates. Theology can be an idol just like anything else. We often tend to take good things and make them ultimate things which, in turn, make them bad things.
In Ephesus they had great doctrine but forgot their first love. That’s a terrifying idea to me & I think it’s not an uncommon thing to see. Sound doctrine, without a love for Jesus Christ, ceases to be sound doctrine. I just don’t know how you get away from that. I don’t know how you get away from loving a truth about a man and not necessarily loving the man of whom that truth is about. That’s devastating to the soul and to the bride.
- Matt Chandler
Let me end with this:
Those who “just want Jesus” and not theology: Don’t think or talk negatively of those who study theology; learn from them. Examine yourself and what you believe according to the Scriptures. Discuss it with others in love (which isn’t always pleasant) and humility. If you truly want to follow Jesus, learn more about Him. Don’t let that be the end, though; it is the means to an end - seeing God for who He is and being satisfied in Him above all else.
Theologians: Don’t become puffed up with pride. You don’t know everything. And you may be wrong. Remember that you also once had theological ignorance. There are less mature Christians than you that are striving to figure out what they believe in. Don’t bash them because they don’t believe what you believe in. Discuss it with them. Be patient. Love them. Rebuke them when necessary. Encourage them.
O Father, may we press into knowing You more intimately than we do. May we not settle for such a surface-level relationship with You like we have with others. May we study Your Word on a deeper level and begin to let it teach us of Your character. May we take the immense amount of knowledge that we already have and apply it to our lives. O LORD, don’t let us become theological snobs! Let us use our theology to press into knowing You - for Your glory and for the edification of Your Church. You and You alone are worthy of our affections! Break us if our theological prowess becomes the thing for which we live. Humble us. LORD have mercy!
You and I must admit that our knowledge in the Bible has outgrown our obedience in it. Knowledge in it should be sought after, yes, but if not applied, it’s of no use. - Ben Ford
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. - A.W. Tozer
I love you.