For a church that may be just discovering deeper doctrine and theology, this may create a lot tension to the people who are naturally entrenched in traditions and teachings that they have gotten used to. But biblical truths are like this by nature — they create tension in churches where biblical truth have not been preached and taught.
It is natural to feel tension when these truths are preached from the pulpit and brought up, but here’s some advice when you encounter these truths for the first time: DO NOT HATE GOOD THEOLOGY. This attitude is unbiblical. Theology is not the culprit for church issues. Our sinful hearts are the culprit.
Let me explain.
The need to get deeper in your knowledge and understanding of God, the Bible, and sound doctrine is sometimes wrongly accused as the cause of church division. When a church focuses on the Bible, doctrine, and theology – that is because it is biblically commanded.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that God’s Word is useful for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” so that Christians and the church may be equipped for every good work. The church will not only be disobedient if it doesn’t focus on reading the Bible, teaching sound doctrine and theology – it will also promote stunted growth. Without a focus on theology and the Bible, your congregation will not grow. And how about the whole of Psalm 119, where it shows – verse after verse – a growing devotion for God’s Word and his commands (doctrine)? Should we then throw that all away because of the fear that “focusing on theology” might cause division?
Let me tell you where the problem is – and it’s usually right where it always is. The problem is in our sinful hearts.
Our hearts want convenience – we don’t like being pressured and disciplined to read more of the Bible, to grow deeper into doctrine BECAUSE THAT REQUIRES MORE WORK, MORE EFFORT ON OUR PART. But a heart that loves God will love more of his Word and more of theology – because that all points to God. Why would you not desire it? Maybe because it is difficult and we are naturally lazy.
How about the argument – “let’s just focus on loving each other and less on theology”? Good biblical theology will show you that you cannot sustain “love” as the foundation of church and community life, because we are all sinners and we will end up hurting each other. What happens then?
We need a stronger foundation – and this is why the Bible (and our church fathers) repeatedly teach us Sola Scriptura – that all of life and ministry should be anchored on the Bible alone because a focus on good biblical theology is able to sustain church life where our imperfect and unfaithful “love” will not.
PLEASE, do not ask your church leaders to stop teaching the Bible and good theology, and just focus on “loving and accepting” each other. You will end up destroying your churches because your love will never sustain the church. The Bible will.
The problem is here – because you don’t know enough good theology, then your attitudes don’t follow through. Because you don’t have enough of Christ in your heart, then you don’t love God’s Word. The path to a good church community – a loving church community – is to understand and live out God’s Word. So it starts with good theology and doctrine and results in good works. That has always been the correct process. Theology goes to praxis. What you believe in affects what you decide to do.
RC Sproul rightly says that God’s Word should be in the hearts of Christians, and not just in the heads. But he also rightly continues, that it can’t be in your hearts if it is not first in your heads.
Christian, you need good theology and doctrine in your head (study it, focus on it, read it) so that it can be in your heart. You do not magically become a good Christian. You need to focus on the Gospel as of first importance. Then as the Word sanctifies you, then you will be able to love the people in your church community more.
PLEASE DO NOT HATE GOOD THEOLOGY. The sin that results from bad theology will be the downfall of your spiritual life.