Is it possible that our theology is so fixed in how it describes our relation to God that we are more enamored with our brand of theology than with God Himself?
Within us exists a subtle temptation to convey that our interpretation of Scripture (our theology) is far more advanced and more excellent than the next brother or sister. But, perhaps more serious than that, is the fact that we can be more zealous to bring people into relationship with our brand of theology than with God Himself. Oftentimes we are convinced that there is a special “freedom” or “anointing” to our theology that no one else can offer.
Now I’m admitting that each of us wrestles with many nuances as we engage the Word of God. We are imperfect when it comes to expressing ourselves Biblically and relevantly, and also in agreement with the truth that transformed us on our personal journey. Furthermore, that each one of us is convinced we are right is not prideful or surprising. No one goes around saying, “I’m wrong, I’m wrong, I know I’m wrong.” We have grappled with the various interpretations of theology expressing salvation and, more importantly, exemplify the living-proof that God used certain compelling truths to capture us, change us and motivate us to live for Him.
But after that work is accomplished in us, we can easily convey the truth in such a way that. if only people believed the way we do, they would find a greater fellowship, freedom, or breakthrough: If they would apply our version of the Gospel they would not fall into the error of so many others. (And I’m talking about those who preach a pure Gospel – Jesus is Lord and you need to turn from yourself and accept His free gift of redemption through faith.) Again, it can be more about our methods and our special teachings and how the others are “off” in some error instead of simply calling people into REAL SIMPLE PASSIONATE FAITH RELATIONSHIP with God.
It is not theology that saves us. Theology expresses the deeper realities that are going on in our journey of salvation. But salvation is much deeper than a teaching or a method or a mindset. God uses each of these tools. But if our emphasis stops short with people celebrating the greatness of our teaching or method or mindset, then they missed the whole point.
The challenge is getting people to respond to spiritual realities. Many live in a perpetual spiritual fog. They cannot see the forest for the trees. It is my belief that opening them up to spiritual reality is only able to be accomplished through the help of the Holy Spirit Himself. Our whole passion, as believers, should be to partner with God to see this work take place; to see people respond through a living faith. We should be excited whether God uses our particular brand of theology or whether He uses someone else’s. “Glory be to God. He captured another selfish heart and won their surrender and allegiance.” That should be our thinking. It doesn’t matter if it was Calvinism or Arminianism,or Wesleyism…or anything else.
When will we be humble enough to admit that God has used very different theologies at various points in history to awaken hearts? Interesting enough, in our day, it seems the pendulum has swung very far to the grace-only side. It’s like we have a “paranoia” about guiding people on how to engage God. “Now be careful, don’t engage God too intentionally now. He did it all for you. You are very near the cliff of self-effort and works, be careful!”
Don’t we think God can handle our passion, excesses and errors? If we engage Him and become obsessed with “doing,” instead of “being,” won’t He guide us and change our perspective? Many movements seem to project a message that they don’t think God can handle the different approaches of theology that are brought to the table. Once again, in such a subtle way, so much theology throughout the Church-age is reactionary theology. Leaders who have been in a dead religiosity and have lived an experience that was fake come across like they have a corner on the market of real freedom and anyone who is motivated and deeply engaged and wants to draw near to God in earnest seeking is somehow operating in self- effort. We need to make room for various emphases without projecting on others that they are in error and putting unnecessary labels on each other.