Yesterday, I posted about dangers of studying theology, and I prefaced that post with these words: "There are also grave dangers in not studying theology." I realize that even believers who don't study theology still have their own belief system, and I know that how and where we study theology varies widely. Nevertheless, I am concerned when we choose not to tackle the tasks of theology. So, in response to a request from one of yesterday's readers, here are some of those dangers that come to mind:
- Simply accepting false teaching. Frankly, Christian teachings are often difficult to wrestle with emotionally (for example, the lostness of human beings and the reality of hell). If you don't worry about studying theology, it's easy to determine truth on a wrong basis.
- Assuming that your private interpretation of the Scriptures is the right one. If few other people (or any other people) have ever reached your doctrinal conclusion, it's probably good to reconsider your position. Study will help you walk through this process.
- Becoming spiritually arrogant about your lack of need for study. I've not known many, but I have known some church leaders who viewed their lack of study as a sign of their super-spiritual knowledge of the Holy Spirit's leading. In fact, they look down on anyone who feels a need to study much at all.
- Being ill-prepared for dealing with tough issues. Consider the reality of evil, for example, when even believers must struggle with heartache. It's hard to discuss these issues well without spending some time theologizing.
- Making theological errors that others have made before. Believers through the ages have faced, confronted and addressed theological problems. Knowledge of these issues from the past can help you avoid them again.
- Allowing false teaching to infiltrate your church. The enemy we face is a sly one; he snakes his way into the church through teachers who appear to be "ministers of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11:15b). It's tough to counter those teachers if you don't recognize their lies.
- Being ill-prepared to defend your faith. It's obviously important to know what we believe, but it's also important to know why we believe what we believe. Nonbelievers seldom accept our beliefs simply because we claim they're right.
- Minimizing sin in your life. To be honest, some church members would like to be able to deny the seriousness of their sin and grant themselves permission to live as they wish. Strong theology, though, is one reason they won't go there.
What other dangers would you add?
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.
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