Why Didn’t the Church Just Stick with the Bible? (Pt. 1)- The Importance of Doing Theology

Over the next two days we will be looking at the importance of theology and the roots of anti-theological attitudes within the Evangelical church today.

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In his book on Christology, Veli-Matti Karkkainen mentions some questions that theology students have often asked him on the first day of class:

“What is the point of these finely nuanced disputes – what difference do they make at all?” “Why didn’t the church just stick with the Bible?”[1]

These are questions that I am often faced with myself. Having grown up in a Pentecostal church, theology was often seen as unimportant. Later on in life I moved to a non-denominational mega church that had its roots in the Southern Baptist Denomination. The baptist tradition also had a sort of disdain for “too much theology.” As a person who tends to think deeply about things, I have had to ask myself, “is there a point to what I am doing?” “Should I even be in seminary?” Since both of these traditions (pentecostal & southern baptist) place more of an emphasis on pragmatics than theory I believe that it is important to be able to articulate why theology is actually important.

Part of articulating the importance of theology will be to articulate how our beliefs about the world affect the way we act.

If we don’t actually believe that our beliefs play out in the way we live and act then theology (our beliefs about God) will not be important in the minds of many. For instance, if I believe that rabbits actually eat human flesh rather than grass and carrots, then I will avoid rabbits at all costs, thus I will never visit a petting zoo. Although this is a silly example, it illustrates the important point that:

Our beliefs affect (and maybe even dictate) our action.

When doing theology this principle is important as well. Consider the belief that Scripture is merely human opinion. If one holds this belief then one might come to disregard some of the moral requirements in the Bible as being antiquated, or merely contextual. Or consider the important Christological question regarding the divinity of God: “Is Christ actually divine?” If we cannot articulate the divinity of Christ, then we must ask ourselves “on what basis do we attain salvation?” Denying the divinity of Christ leads to this question because many atonement theories rely upon the divinity of Christ for atonement to be attained. For instance a substitution theory like that of Anselm requires that Jesus be God, namely because only a being of infinite worth could repay God honor for the offense committed against him through sin which dishonors him.

Next time we will take a look at why I believe is the roots of the anti-intellectual/anti-theological attitude among Evangelicals today.


[1] Karkkainen, 61

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