Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Bad Theology & Knowing the Father

Most of us know the truth expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” Perhaps we also know the truth taught in Romans 1:18-32, which is, to state it succinctly, “Bad theology corrupts good character.”

Even though we know both of these truths, we can still be left wondering how certain Christians end up in immoral situations. Our wonder is increased when the Christian involved has emphasized “good company” (nearly to the point of legalism) and “sound doctrine” (to the point of arguing with all who differ).

A good portion of my time is spent with Christians who have fallen into sin. Some of them, it is true, turned out to not be Christians. That is a subject for another post. However, some of them were Christians. As they have recounted the details of their sin, I could see they had not been keeping “bad company,” and their theology, on the surface, appeared to be sound. So how could I account for the sin?

After more questioning, I saw that the basic cause really was bad theology, although not in any area that they might have suspected.

Much, if not most, of bad theology is the result of false teaching—that is, teaching that is untrue about God, His being, His character, or His work. This kind of false teaching shows up in cults, heresies, other world religions, and liberalism, and if we know our Bible, it is easy to recognize.

There is another kind of bad theology that is taught by Christians who give incomplete teaching or emphasized teaching. They leave truth out, not because they do not believe it, but because it is not the present Christian cultural pattern to teach it.

Here are a few expressions I hear (and say) regularly. These can easily fit into “good theology.”

“Do you know the Savior?”
“Jesus loves you.”
“Would you like to come to Jesus?”
“Would you like to come to Christ?”

Here are a few expressions I do not hear:

“Do you know the Father?”
“The Father loves you.” I am not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you. (John 16:26b-27a)
“Would you like to come to the Father?” I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

The reason we do not hear these expressions is because they do not sound right in our Christian culture. Consequently, they are not spoken or heard. Then, in the vacuum of teaching about the Father, Christians make up their own theology that is from the enemy of our souls. It a caricature of the Father. In the absence of good teaching about the Father, teaching from all parts of the world enters into our view of Him. Bad theology is the first result of this teaching; bad morality is the second.

Since we teach that Jesus loves us, and we do not teach that the Father loves us, the bad theology that results is that the Father does not love us. This conclusion is borne out by many Christians’ answers to the question, “Would you describe God the Father to me?” In almost every answer, He is not loving. When “love” is included in the answer, the way it is spoken of shows that it is not believed, e.g. “He is supposed to be loving.”

When I ask similar questions about Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I find that Jesus invariably has a better character than the Father. I ask these questions to people who are Trinitarians. However, it is impossible to make their three descriptions fit into one Deity; they are so different. These Christians sound polytheistic as they give their answers.

Most of the Christians I ask have two types of answers: confirmation class answers (correct answers) and the answers they really believe. As I listen to this bad theology, I have no wonder why this person in front of me also has bad morality.

Here are three assignments:

1. Read the Gospel of John with a marker in your hand. Highlight every mention of the Father and notice His characteristics and difference from or likeness to Jesus.

2. Go through the New Testament looking for prayers or teaching on prayer. To whom are the prayers addressed?

3. Read the salutations of the letters in the New Testament. What do they say about the Father?

When your theology about the Father becomes truly biblical, it will affect the way you live.
“If God has revealed anything to me that I have not obeyed, I will go down when the crisis comes no matter how I may cry to Him.”

~ Oswald Chambers

No comments: