I believe theology is very important. Doctrine is crucial to our understanding of the Bible and the application of its truth into our lives. If its true that live from what we believe or at least that we should do, then we cannot live right, if we don’t believe right. I concur 100%.
That said however, I do believe the church (of which I am part and therefore share the blame) has been guilty of being more passionate and determined in debating theological issues and defending our dogma’s, and traditions than fulfilling the commission to reach the world. We have even become more proficient at using scripture to prescribe who should go to heaven and who won’t, rather than allowing it to provoke us to reach out to every person with grace and genuine compassion.
Theology is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. It’s there to help us understand God so that we might fulfil our individual and corporate purpose. The highest goal as a Christian is not to understand the theology of the bible, but to know Jesus.
The Bible makes it clear that at the end of time we will be judged on one thing, and one thing alone. We will certainly not be made to stand before Jesus and give an account of what we believed! We will not be given a multiple-choice exam on our understanding of systemic theology. Imagine it, “Question: Premillenialism? Tick one for strongly agree, two for strongly disagree, and three for don’t know!”
Whether you agree with women in leadership or not; whether you are amillennial, post-millenial or as I like to think ‘pan’ millennial (ie it will all pan out in the end!!) I just can’t see that being the primary issue that God will ask us about when we stand in front of him. So what will he ask, I hear you ask?
Well maybe we can find an answer of sorts in Matt 25:31-46. The first, and perhaps only question he will ask is ‘when I was hungry, did you feed me. When I was thirsty, did you give me a drink, when I was a stranger did you invite me in…etc”
I may know my systematic theology back to front; I may understand the tenets of re-constructionism, superlapsarianism or any other ‘isms’ that exist (I don’t by the way!), but if I cannot answer this question when I stand before Jesus, the King of Heaven then I had best be prepared for a sulphur bath! Oh yes that’s what it says!
This is strong stuff. Jesus said if we don’t engage with the primary mission of reaching people then everything we know counts for nothing and what’s more, we will be judged on that. I have to say that makes me feel very uneasy about my own response to this question. Sure I have devoted my life to serving God, and building his kingdom but have I always recognised the person of Jesus in the needs of those around me, and moreover, did I respond to him. Every act of compassion, grace and love that I sow into the lives to others is a reflection of my worship to Jesus.
This is not an optional extra to our faith. We will not be able to baffle God in heaven with theological gymnastics in order to convince him that we are worthy of his approval because of what we know. If we don’t convert what we know into what we do, it is meaningless!
Paul says in Phil ch3 that all his pharisaic knowledge and understanding counted for ‘rubbish’ (literally ‘dung’) compared to knowing and serving the true Christ. Now Paul is the writer of much of our theology today so if he can say that; well enough said!
Get into Gods word. Study it , learn it , let it get into your bones because its great to debate the things we believe, and its right to have our opinions but always remember the first question you will be asked in heaven will not be theological it will be missional. Lets not get side tracked and waste energy fighting over secondary issues when there is a lost world to be reached. That was Jesus’ priority and it must be ours too.