“For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.” Mark 7:8 (NLT)
What’s more dangerous to the human soul, money or theology? Ya know if you said money, you might be like 95% in the ballpark. The apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” In this there ain’t no doubt. Jesus says this even better, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) Well before moving on, let me say this, put money and what it can buy above God and it will rob you of Him and cause you some serious pain apart from Him.
But is money more spiritually dangerous than theology? The answer to this may just be a bit tricker than you realize, especially in what we know as the proudly affluent and highly educated American Church today. Where money is that tangible countable visible god, theology can be a soothing, subtle, superficially spiritual god. I remember walkin’ proudly outta America’s Keswick Colony of Mercy with a 6-volume set of Matthews Henry’s “Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible” and thinking, “With this I will truly understand the oracles of God.” Boy, did I ever fool myself into that. I’m getting lost using his concise commentary from time to time.
Now, don’t get any of this wrong, theology is a great thing to dive into and I highly recommend it because without theology, it’ll be tough to know God, literally and spiritually. However, subscribing to bad theology will lull you into a proud, intellectual, purely cosmetic confidence and rest before God. Good theology should kindle a deep, abiding love for the God of your Bible, inspire a desire for HIS glory and not your own set of snappy answers to God-size questions. As Paul would say, “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you, I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the One who was crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-2
But yet there are those of us, especially on them social media pages, that’ll cut-n-paste a slice of John Calvin into a conversation without really reading what their posting. I kinda think this is the way those wacky Pharisees fought Jesus at every turn. They absolutely hated much of what He saying to the very sheep that had been wandering around lost because of them. They had read TORAH every day, over and over again and yet out of it all, The Word would be standing right in front of them and they would still speak all kinds of foolishness that sounded like this, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.” (Mark 7:5b) I might have added, “and they didn’t do the hokey-pokey and they didn’t turn themselves around” but I’m a silly person, best just to leave that be.
The warning for all this goes like this, don’t challenge God’s own understanding of God. All the education and pride, the knowledge and confidence in a man made up theology will blind folks to the very voice of God. The one thing all my education has done for me in this arena is left me with more unanswered questions about God than when I first started to study His Word. It doesn’t matter how much Tozer I read, if I ain’t taking any of that back Scripture, I’m just taking Tozer at his word, and guess what? Tozer even says don’t take him at his word, take Gods instead.
We want a theology that can say at the end of the day, “Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise You! I will praise You as long as I live, lifting up my hands to You in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise You with songs of joy.” (Psalm 63:3-5) And if you arrive at this moment, by all means, pray God’s Word back to Him. Yeah, I know He knows His Word, but wouldn’t He like to hear if you know His Word? BTW, it isn’t theologically wrong to converse El Elyon, as matter of fact, it’s expected!!
All in all, you can serve, love and treasure God with good theology. How do you know if your theology is good? Well, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17) right? It’s always a good idea to be constantly honing what you’re reading and understanding about God. And remember this amusing thought…beating a sword into a rock only makes it dull and unusable. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a husband, a father, has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can e-mail at email@example.com.
Think About This: “If we don’t know the Bible, if we don’t know doctrine, if we don’t know theology, it is virtually impossible for us to identify false prophets.” – Voddie Baucham