‘I Don’t Need Theology, I Just Need Jesus’ Just Means You Have Bad Theology

‘I Don’t Need Theology, I Just Need Jesus’ Just Means You Have Bad Theology June 3, 2019

There has been some debate as to who first uttered the phrase made famous by Keyser Söze in 1995’s cinematic classic The Usual Suspects. Approaching the end of the film, the mythical crime kingpin states, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” If you haven’t seen the film, this moment is a confession of sorts. Until now, the audience is not sure of Söze’s identity. The viewer spends the film seeing others cower under his influence without seeing him. So much so, his reputation grows into something beyond that of a normal man; many doubting his existence.

Unlike the film, I won’t go as far as to say it’s the “greatest” trick the devil ever pulled, though that worked well for cinematic effect. However, I will agree that one of the most effective methods for disarming an enemy is to convince them the opposition is imaginary. This is especially true when it comes to the spiritual and religious; there is a fine line between denial and manipulation.

If you’ve spent any time reading this blog, you already know we are passionate about theology. We believe it critically important, completely captivating, and objectively unavoidable. No one can avoid making theological statements and producing theological positions. Even the smallest utterance about God, religion, nature, or humanity speaks volumes about one’s worldview and relationship with Jesus. The theological claims of Christianity and Jesus are far too cosmic and all-encompassing to be a non-issue. Indeed, everyone is a theologian, as the title of the late DR. R.C. Sproul’s books suggests.

A pursuit of theology is fundamental and vital to our make up as human beings. Because we bear the Imago Dei (we are made in the image of God), we’re designed with natural propensities for the spiritual and divine. We are wired to pursue theology – if not formally, then certainly informally. Even atheists, by their own self-admission, are going out of the way to classify themselves by an a-theological position. The great efforts made to publicly deny God are, in and of themselves, admissions of the great importance God plays in our world. It’s for reasons like these the statements that deny the need for theology are so absurd to me. Yet, it is not the militant atheist’s denial of theology that frustrates me the most – it is Christian’s. Their denial statements are often phrased something like this: “I don’t need theology; I just need Jesus.”

The irony of such elucidations is that they are, in and of themselves, theological statements. What they’re effectively saying is: “I don’t know much about Jesus, and I really don’t care enough to learn.” An absolute refusal to learn about someone is a polite way to say you don’t think much of them. The classic analogy here is the picture of marriage. No spouse would dare say “I love my wife, but I don’t know anything about her.” Those that we love, we get to know. We invest time and energy into such relationships; we work at it because we deeply care. Can we really say we love someone that we know nothing about?

Theology is critical for all, especially for Christians. A denial of the need for theology is often just an excuse for laziness and disbelief. It is this poor logic that plights the liberal and shallow branches of Christianity. Embracing such deceptions, they will convince themselves that aimless acceptance and/or misguided passion is an adequate replacement for Jesus’ propitiation of God’s wrath. As I have said elsewhere: we must know God rightly if we are to know Him at all.

A Christian that willingly denies the need for theology is like one getting a car with poor steering, bad brakes, and weak suspension. Certainly, the car may move, but it will be subject to whatever rough terrain or road may offer; it will be very intolerable. Soon, the less tumultuous wide path becomes attractive. Yet, it is the narrow path that our Lord requires us to take if are to meet Jesus in Heaven. To stay this course and navigate the terrain, Christians require the guidance and discernment found only through a lifelong dedication to the study of God’s word.

Having made my primary point, I think it important to say that I do believe there are some genuine Christians who make such absurd statements. In their case, we must remember that all Christians are in the process of sanctification. Some of us are further along than others. I shudder to think at some of the theological statements I made when I was a newer Christian (that is not to say I have achieved any superior level of sanctification. I’m only pointing out I have come a long way from where I started; I still have a long way to go!).  In these instances, and with these individuals, we can lean on the kindness and perfect love of Christ overcoming their temporary ignorance. Christ, who began a good work in them, will bring it to completion. In time, they will come to understand how true love and theology are intertwined.

For the others, who would rather die on Ignorance Hill than study their bible, attend church, or serve their community – their minds have been warped by the lies of Satan. Whatever image or relationship they think they have is not with the Jesus of the bible. How could it be? They don’t know anything about him. Having convinced them theology is effectively useless, Satan has compromised their best means of protection–the truth of the living God.

Alternatively, the deceived will create a god who looks very little like the God of the bible and very much like themselves. He approves the things they approve and condemns those who use scripture to challenge their views. As already mentioned, there is a thin line between denial and manipulation. In this case, a denial of the existence of holy biblical God permits manipulation of the soul. When one, in the name of love, denies the need for theology, they open the gate and invite the lion in to devour them whole.

Good theology is not for just for white-haired men in towers with books. It is for all. Perhaps even more so for the youngest and weakest Christian. Theology is the lifeblood of Christianity. You cannot possess one without the other. To know even the smallest truth about Jesus is to be a theologian and this is good! Theology gives us backbones and allows us to stand up when faced with turmoil. When we rightly understand the greatness of Jesus and His extraordinary salvation, the burdens of life become lighter. Theology is a path to all the goodness of heaven because Jesus is the righteous embodiment of theology.

The importance of sound theology and doctrine all is all over the bible. Consider Paul’s weighty instructions to Timothy as an example: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Some will read this and think that I erred too far on the side doctrine and am neglecting love. But I ask you how you can have one without the other? Sincere biblical love is only understood and rightly applied when we rightly understand and apply the doctrine of Jesus. Often what we pass off as love is cheap, shallow, and empty. I may have more relaxed conversations if I refuse to tell those around me of the sins that God surely sees. But am I being loving? Can I consider myself a true friend if I believe someone to be dangling over the pit of hell and say nothing?

Real love is found in servant-hood, sacrifice, church community, and caring for your neighbor. Sometimes truly caring for those around us requires hard truths because they are truths. To allow the perpetuation of lie is not loving; it is the opposite. Love and doctrine go perfectly together; they are different sides of the same coin. It is impossible to know doctrine, love, or God without the scripture. This is where the oracles of God and His gospel are contained. It is this special means by which God has chosen to reveal Himself to us.

Psalm 119 is extraordinarily helpful here. I do not think a coincidence that the single longest chapter in scripture (176 verses) is dedicated to the loving the law of God. The psalmist reminds us over and over how his true delight and protection is only found in knowing God, via His word. He writes:

 

Oh how I love your law!

    It is my meditation all the day.

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,

    for it is ever with me.

 I have more understanding than all my teachers,

    for your testimonies are my meditation.

I understand more than the aged,

    for I keep your precepts.

I hold back my feet from every evil way,

    in order to keep your word.

I do not turn aside from your rules,

    for you have taught me.

How sweet are your words to my taste,

    sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Through your precepts I get understanding;

    therefore I hate every false way.

(Psalm 119:97-104)

 

Knowing God, as He is presented in scripture, is a non-negotiable for Christians. Theology offers a eternal well of joy and shield of protection from the enemy. Any Christian who thinks they can continue with a “no creed but Christ” is setting themselves up for failure. Anyone with this paradigm should truly self-evaluate if they really love the Lord at all. A denial of the need for theology is a denial of the Lord Jesus.


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  • Salvatore Anthony Luiso

    Thank you for this article. I heartily agree with its main point. I disagree with certain of its lesser points. I think he may not properly distinguish between theology and philosophy. I do agree that everyone is a theologian. Having an opinion about God makes one no more a theologian than having an opinion about the weather makes one a meteorologist. Many people are indifferent about God, even though they believe He exists, and thus indifferent about theology.

    Based upon my own observations, I think that the primary reason why many Christians believe things like “I don’t need theology; I just need Jesus” is an ignorance of what theology is. Many of them would get upset if they were to hear someone loudly deny that Jesus is the Son of God, that He is not God Incarnate, that He is the propitiation for ours sins, that He reigns from Heaven, and that forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation with God are through Him alone. They would insist that these are all true. Yet they do not realize that what they are insisting upon are theological doctrines. They may think of them as something else, e.g. “facts about Jesus”. They think of theology and doctrine as man-made, i.e. not biblical.

    (I know of a highly respected theologian, professor of Christian theology, and prolific author of theological articles and books, who identifies as an evangelical, and who distinguishes between “biblical teaching”, which, to him, is what the Bible teaches, and “doctrine”, which, to him, is man-made. If someone like him can make this false distinction, how much more so someone who is not as learned in the Bible and theology as he is?)

    I think another reason why many Christians believe things like “I don’t need theology; I just need Jesus” is that they believe that Jesus is for everyone but theology is for people who are smarter than they are. They do not realize that they already know elementary theology, and that they could learn more easily.

    Regarding “It is this poor logic that plights the liberal and shallow branches of Christianity”: I don’t know what the author means by the “liberal” branches. Does he mean professed Christians who believe in liberal theology, e.g. those who hold to so-called “Progressive Christianity”? As he knows, liberal theologians have written a multitude of theological books. One might say that their problem is not a lack of interest in theology, but an aversion to certain theological truths.

    In conclusion: this divinely-inspired admonition shows that knowledge of theology is an aspect of spiritual growth:

    But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
    –II Peter 3:18 (ESV)

    • Joshua Sonofnone

      This is why some choose to distinguish between Biblical theology and systematic theology. Although you did not use the terms “Biblical theology” and “systematic theology,” what you have written could help someone make distinctions between the two terms. The verse you quote supports knowing Jesus more deeply as well as knowing more about Jesus, which certainly relates to theology. Like you, I would agree with the major points the author of the article is making.

      • Joel Bridge

        There was systematic theology before there was biblical theology.

        • Christiane Smith

          Our Lord Himself said it pleased Him, this:

          “21At that time, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and declared, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was well-pleasing in Your sight.”

          (from the Holy Gospel of St. Luke 10:21)

  • Christiane Smith

    two quotes:

    ““I didn’t need to understand the hypostatic unity of the Trinity; I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees.” (Anne Lamott)

    and

    “After one moment when I bowed my head
    And the whole world turned over and came upright,
    And I came out where the old road shone white.
    I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
    Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
    Being not unlovable but strange and light;
    Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
    But softly, as men smile about the dead
    The sages have a hundred maps to give
    That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
    They rattle reason out through many a sieve
    That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
    And all these things are less than dust to me
    Because my name is Lazarus and I live ”

    (G.K. Chesterton, ‘The Convert’)

  • Christiane Smith

    I don’t know about ‘evangelical’ but if a person is a Christian who ‘experiences’ Christ in a spiritual sense, I imagine they still would want to ‘know more’ about Him. Problem: there are so many ‘Christologies’ out there to examine that are ‘backed up’ by people quoting verses of Scripture.

    Here is one perspective that helps me to ‘experience’ Christ in the face of the truth that ‘si comprendis, non est Deus’ (translated “if we understand Him, it is not God’):
    “Le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point.” Blaise Pascal
    (translated: “The heart has its reasons that reason cannot know.” )

  • Herrnhut

    The term Eucharist commonly used to denote communion is “eucharistia ( εὐχαριστίας ) “. It means thankfulness (Strong 2169). It is used only in Acts and Pauline letters when there were thanksgiving, an expression of gratefulness to the LORD. That is the attitude of followers of our LORD but it is not uniquely tied to the communion time. In fact, most high churches dispense the bread and wine with solemnity more like fearful and loathing afraid they may be judged because they told their pews that is why their may die early.

    The term Eulogy commonly used to denote funeral remembrance actually was used in the last super and communion passage “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26)

    The Greek word “blessed” is “eulogēsa” (εὐλογήσας). My LORD instituted the bread and wine to be His body broken for me and His blood shed for me with an eternal love not just for the eternal life but for my abundant life now. He has this repeated refrains in “I am the Bread of Life” in the Gospel of John chapter 6 to tell the religious highbrows, His body broken, crushed, grinded under the two mill stones**, handled, marred, baked to give life to all that draw near.

    That is why Paul, the grace secretary for the Risen Christ was told directly (with no one in between) “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:….” And it is that important because many religious leaders like the other apostles are still confused of the purpose of the communion. All the high church think of fear of the elements but Paul talked about blessing and thanksgiving. In fact if anyone who do not discern of the purpose of the body of Christ broken to bless us then they would be like the rest of the world get sick and die prematurely.. Many cessationist church people died young without healing and miracles since they say and believe no more miracles. While miracles happen every day in homes and hospitals even without a clergy since Jesus is in their midst. “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house…..”(The Acts chapter 2 – Pentecost)

  • Alan Drake

    *SO* Wrong !

    I renounced the Southern Baptist’s I grew up as because of the various positive evils they promote, based on their theology.

    After a period, I became convinced to join the Religious Society of Friends – the Quakers. One of the Divine joys of being a Quaker is the absence of theology.

    • Cyndi Watkins

      I’m with you, Alan. Some people, like Jack who wrote this column, are into “God as Revealed Through Scripture,” while others of us bask in “God as Holy Mystery.” The older I get and the more I study the Bible and Theology (which also encompasses the study of diverse religious thought), the more I love that Mystery. I think I would make a good Quaker.l

      • GeoLW

        “God as Holy Mystery” is a belief about God, and thus a theology. We don’t escape theology by calling it by another name.

        • fractal

          Correct.

          We escape theology by actually EXPERIENCING grace flooding thru our body, mind and heart.

          All that intellectual stuff you promote simply clouds the mind.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJXcrM3B4zI

          • GeoLW

            Scripture teaches that God’s grace reaches the heart by the Word through the vehicle of the mind. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, ESV)

            Scripture also teaches that the human heart is deceitful due to sin, and therefore cannot be trusted apart from the influence the Word on the mind. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV)

            God is not against the intellect, but calls us to love and serve him with all the heart, soul, MIND and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:34-40). That is what true, biblical “theology” is all about. Such theology is not something we should want to “escape” (since the Bible is saturated with it), but something we should embrace and delight in with heart, soul, mind and strength, for it’s not just “intellectual stuff” (as you disparagingly but wrongly describe it), but soul-satisfying truth grounded in God’s Word.

          • fractal

            I don’t care what Abrahamic Triad scripture says.
            It’s purpose is mostly to subjugate women and further political hierarchies.

            I do like most of what Jesus says, but don’t think the average Christian has a clue what he was really talking about.

            Never said Goddess is “against the intellect”.
            However, you will never know or experience Goddess with logic or the intellect.
            Not the correct tool.

          • Jay Hansen

            I can guaron-damn-tee you’re right.

          • fractal

            Once you’ve stumbled into the experience of Goddess, it become clear what is important.
            Unfortunate that the ego simply cannot comprehend what a mystical experience is about; just have to be there.

          • Jay Hansen

            G_d transcends gender.

          • fractal

            Yep.

            Too bad language doesn’t.
            And genderized pronouns are quite psychologically destructive when always used to imply Goddess is one gender or another.

            After many millennium always thinking of God as masculine, a correction is necessary for humanity to evolve further.
            Also, compassionate for the gender left out of the equation.

          • Jay Hansen

            Point taken.

          • GeoLW

            “Abrahamic Triad scripture”? Never heard the Bible referred to as that before.

            I’m sorry that you don’t care about what the Bible says. You should, but obviously I can’t force you to do so.

            “I do like most of what Jesus says, but don’t think the average Christian has a clue what he was really talking about.”

            So obviously you regard yourself as smarter or more enlightened than the “average Christian.” But at the same time you denigrate logic, reason and the intellect in the realm of spirituality? Sorry, but that’s incoherent. (And don’t you think it comes across as a bit pompous, even “dogmatic”?)

            Have you actually read the Gospel accounts, or seriously considered the claims of Christ? I would encourage you to do so. May God bless and guide you.

          • fractal

            I was raised Fundy Catholic with 9 years of biblical education.
            I know what I am talking about.

            You seem to think the only way to “know” something is thru logic and language.
            Not so.

            Someone taught you that.

            There are much deeper ways of knowing.

          • GeoLW

            I know you think you know what you’re talking about (implying, as you do, that I don’t know what I’m talking about), but I beg to differ. I could just as easily say “I know what I am talking about” and, based on your standard of judgment, you would have no way to refute me or prove me wrong.

            When unsubstantiated, personal assertions of spiritual authority are all that you base your beliefs and spirituality on, it shouldn’t surprise you that some of us respond with skepticism. Sorry, my friend, you’re not Divine, and your mystical experience is not the standard of Truth, no matter how dogmatically you assert it to be such and no matter how sincerely you may personally believe that it is. In fact, I would suggest that your personal experience is one of self-deception.

          • fractal

            I would say the same of anyone that takes little scribbles on paper as a doctrine of belief, while turning their back on the direct experience of the Sacred.

            All I am doing is describing what happens during and directly after a mystical experience.
            You don’t want to hear it, because you have a romance with your ego-mind.

    • GeoLW

      The Quakers too have a theology, even if it’s an anti-theology theology. One of the points of this article is that theology is unavoidable. Any statement or belief about God, Christ, sin, salvation, Scripture, church, sacraments, etc., is unavoidably a theological statement, because it reflects one’s worldview when it comes to ultimate issues. “Undogmatic” religions like Quakerism have simply replaced the dogmas of historic Christianity with a new dogma: the dogma of anti-dogmatism.

      • fractal

        “…the dogma of anti-dogmatism.”

        More semantics games to divert from the issue.
        Pretzel logic is soooooooooooo boring.

        • GeoLW

          You are quite dogmatic in insisting that I’m playing “semantics games.” But I would suggest that yours is a case of psychological projection (projecting upon me that which you yourself are guilty of, namely, semantics games).

          • fractal

            Did you even bother to watch the videos I incorporated in my responses?

            Bet ya didn’t…

          • GeoLW

            I went back and watched them. Thanks for sharing. Very beautiful scenery from God’s creation and pretty music, but vague and pretty shallow, meaningless content in terms of the message communicated, in my opinion (no offense intended). All I could figure is that the videos seem to be promoting some kind of pantheistic mysticism or Buddhist-style “empty your mind, follow your heart” theology (the same kind of “follow your heart” philosophy that permeates Disney movies). So, sorry, pretty videos using emotionally-manipulative music aren’t going to change my mind.

            Shallow mysticism is no substitute for the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, the living Truth who promises abundant, eternal life to all who embrace Him in faith, and whose Spirit is a well of living water welling up to quench the thirsty soul. I’d encourage you to get to know Him better.

          • fractal

            Had you ever experienced mysticism, you would understand.
            There is no way to explain it; but the poets try.
            The dissolution of ego, and the accompanying shock of experiencing a whole new dimension of being, will bring you to your knees, weeping with joy.

            Of course the videos won’t change anything with you; but if you ever do stumble into a direct experience of the Sacred pouring into you, you will remember these videos and understand.
            Then you will know that others are out there that can show you another way of being.

            BTW, the two poets are Sufi poets from many centuries ago; they are right now the best read poets in America and probably Europe—possibly in the world.

            PS—Your last paragraph is judgemental proselytizing.
            Belief and dogma is no substitute for your heart beating in time with the heartbeat of the Goddess.

          • GeoLW

            What makes you think I haven’t tried mysticism? I did, in fact, dabble in mystical spirituality for a time (though not the kind you promote), and it just didn’t satisfy in the long haul.

            Thanks, but I’ll take the objective, real Jesus over subjective mysticism any day. Coming to know Him as my Savior has often brought me to my knees in joy (what the Bible describes as “joy unspeakable, and full of glory”), especially knowing that He died on the cross to save a sinful, messed-up wretch like me and has graciously forgiven my sins. I hope you’ll come to know and trust Him someday too. Blessings.

          • fractal

            The reason it wasn’t satisfying, was that you didn’t have the experience.
            Of course, one cannot MAKE oneself have a mystical experience—it just happens.
            It is like going to sleep—one must LET themselves go to sleep.

            It is about engaging the receptive principle instead of the active principle; the open hand instead of the fist.

            Belief is about holding fast— the fist, and it keeps one apart from the experience of Divinity.

          • GeoLW

            Wow, the utter hubris and lack of self-reflection you exhibit in presuming to sit in judgment over my experience. I doubt you realize how arrogant you sound.

          • fractal

            The proof is in the pudding.
            One does not “dabble in mysticism”.
            Either one has the experience, or one does not.

            I will say this, however.
            During a mystical experience, there is no intellectualizing, no doctrine, no words necessary.
            After the experience, many will try to shove the square peg of the experience into the round hole of the intellect.
            They will try to marry their dogma to their experience.

            It does not work, it is a spiritual error, and results in one passionately believing that Goddess has proven their POV.

            The end game of this, is that the mystical experiences will fall away, because one is trying to align them with stinkin’ thinkin’.

            This is telling Goddess what she is, not letting Her open you up to new revelations.
            You cannot learn anything new, if you are too full of pride in your “correct theology.”
            Drop your notions, quiet your mind and stop TRYING.
            A quiet pond can feel the ripples of insight, that a rushing river of intellect will wash away.

  • I think there is a lot of confusion on what theology is. Once upon a time theology was simply the study about God. Somewhere along the line it became the study about God and related. The related has now totally overshadowed the more important study about God. Once, I thought “If I could find a way, wouldn’t it be great to get a Masters in Theology — have classes in God as Creator, the Glory of God, the Names of God, the Mercy and Goodness of God, the Mystery of God, the dual nature of Christ, the Nature and Work of the Holy Spirit,…etc. Unfortunately, I no longer think such exists. All the Masters in Theology that I’ve seen should really be called Masters in Bible or Masters in Ministry — good things to be sure, but not what I was looking for.
    I started asking those who have been to seminary, “Did you have a single course that was completely about God in seminary?” The great majority have a 90-110hr. M. DIv. I’m up to over 40 now, 3 said yes.
    Some say. “We’re just trying to be practical.” In my life, the study and contemplation on the nature of God has absolutely been the most practical. It’s made the greatest change in my thinking and in my behavior, by far. I urge all Christians to get into it.

    • fractal

      Try the Sufi poets.
      Hafiz and Rumi will take you a lot farther than any logic or argument ever could.

  • Kenneth Corbin

    Jesus himself did not seem to consider theology to be all that important. At least he did not talk about it much.

    • Glenda Poteet

      If Jesus did not teach Theology and consider it important, then what did He teach?

      • fractal

        Love.

        • GeoLW

          Theology is love of God, for it is love for the truth of God. To distinguish love from theology is a false dichotomy.

          • fractal

            Who says theology is “TRUTH”?

            Sounds like a power grab to me.

          • GeoLW

            Theology literally means “the logic of God.” Thus, true theology = God’s Truth.

            Power grab? How is affirming true theology a “power grab”?

          • fractal

            Is this some garbage your minister taught you to recite?
            Just semantics nonsense.
            Take a LOGIC 202 class at your local community college, and get back to me.

          • GeoLW

            No. Could you point out what is incorrect or inaccurate in what I wrote?

            Is your comment (describing my viewpoint as “garbage”) the way you express Christian love?

          • fractal

            Love is Love—denominational labels are beside the point.

            And “truth” is something that changes with perspective.

            You will never find Goddess in logic or dogma or the scientific method.

            The way to her is thru the heart.

            Everything else is incidental.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aehBAYmuNc8

          • GeoLW

            “You will never find Goddess in logic or dogma or the scientific method.”

            You use words to defend and promote your point of view. Words assume the reality of logic, since there is a logic to language. So your statement is logically incoherent and self-contradictory. In other words, your presuppose the reality of logic in order to be critical of logic. (Though, from what you’ve said, I suspect that doesn’t bother you.)

            In response to your statement above, I would ask: How do you know? By what authority do you say this? And why should I care?

          • fractal

            And you REALLY need to take a Logic 202 course at your community college.
            You are embarrassing yourself right now, as your words are not the least bit “logical”.

            Of course, language doesn’t need to be logical, and neither do the concepts they carry.
            You don’t know what you are talking about.

            I know what I am talking about, because I have experienced Divinity directly, enough times to suss out where ideas end, and pure experience begins.
            It is my own authority that confirms this; however, mystics from all religions will tell you the same thing.

            If you care about EXPERIENCING Goddess, Grace and higher consciousness, you should investigate further.
            But if you are just in love with the sound of your own words, and the ego strokes you get from your ideas codifying your primitive prejudices, you won’t care.

          • GeoLW

            “I know what I am talking about, because I have experienced Divinity directly, enough times to suss out where ideas end, and pure experience begins.

            “It is my own authority that confirms this; however, mystics from all religions will tell you the same thing.”

            In other words, “Believe me because ‘I’ say so.” Well, you’re sure free to hold to your opinion, but that’s all it is, and it has no more authority than my opinion or my experience, nor anyone else’s for that matter. (Which is why things like the intellect, evidences, logic, and objective revelation are so important in assessing claims to religious authority.) I too believe I have experienced the Divine – in Jesus Christ as revealed in the Word. So what (objectively speaking) makes your experience more authoritative than mine (other than because YOU say it is)?

            While the religions of the world have some superficial similarities, at root the different religions disagree with each other on many fundamental matters and essentially contradict each other. I know this to be the case, since I have my B.A. in Religious Studies and did my senior thesis on Christian-Muslim dialogue, and also have a Master’s Degree in Theology. (Not trying to boast here, but just to disabuse you of your perception that I lack even a community college education, and your apparent conclusion that I haven’t thought about these kinds of things before.)

          • fractal

            I haven’t asked you to “believe” anything; I have asked you to suspend “belief” in favor of opening your perspective to a possibility of a new paradigm.

            Now, here’s the thing; it isn’t about which religion is correct.
            It is about your approach.
            Put 10 fundigelicals of different religions in the same room for a weekend, and half of them will be dead on Monday. The other half will despise one another.

            Put 10 mystics of differing religious paths in same room, and they will dance, sing, laugh and love one another. Great friendships and alliances will be forged. They will bring new songs and ideas home with them.

            Why?
            Because when you transcend all the mind games and go to the heart of the matter, it is about love, harmony and unity. Goddess connects and balances; the intellect divides and compartmentalizes.

            Now, concerning your education: You have a Biblical College education—correct?
            There is no way you can be objective when the curriculum is centered around Christianity—Christianity is an “assertion theology”.
            It is all about reinforcing a fundamental belief that dogma and faith is what is important.
            It is outside the realm of the heart.

            Explore Eastern Philosophy, which is admittedly difficult for a Westerner, because we worship materialism and the scientific method—all very nice, but it trains your mind a certain way, causing you to narrow your focus to the intellect.

            But we are so much more!

            You need to forget everything you think you know, and start over.
            The most meaningful thing a person can say is “I don’t know”.

            The mind makes a great servant, but a terrible master.

          • GeoLW

            “I haven’t asked you to “believe” anything; I have asked you to suspend “belief” in favor of opening your perspective to a possibility of a new paradigm.”

            Me: That simply is untrue. You’ve asked me to abandon my belief that beliefs are important, which itself is your belief. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, you’re asking me to exchange one doctrine (the doctrine that beliefs are important) for another (your belief that doctrinal beliefs are unimportant).

            “Put 10 fundigelicals of different religions in the same room for a weekend, and half of them will be dead on Monday. The other half will despise one another.”

            Me: Your disparaging caricature of Bible-believing Christians as “fundigelicals” betrays your bias, and your example contrasting such unharmonious Christians with harmonious mystics, is simply wrong from the perspective of my own personal experience. I have had many experiences of fellowship and harmony with fellow Bible-Believing Christians from various denominational and non-denominational backgrounds, even sharing with them in worship, fellowship and friendship. Though we have may have differences over various doctrinal matters (for example, baptism, church government, eschatology, etc.), it is our common belief in and allegiance to Jesus Christ and His gospel (which means “good news”) that unites us into a common experience of fellowship. I’m sorry if you’ve had some bad experiences with Christians or with the church (believe me, we can be messed up and I know we’re far from perfect), but your caricature is based on anti-evangelical prejudice, not nuanced reality.

            “You need to forget everything you think you know, and start over. The most meaningful thing a person can say is “I don’t know”.You need to forget everything you think you know, and start over. The most meaningful thing a person can say is “I don’t know”.”

            Me: I don’t claim (and no reasonable Christian claims) to know everything. But we can know what God has revealed in His Word and in His Son, Jesus Christ. That’s because we believe in a God of revelation, whose primary vehicle of revelation is the Word. But regarding your statement, it is self-defeating on its face. When you assert, “The most meaningful thing a person can say is, “I don’t know””, then I have to ask: “How do YOU know that we can’t know?” Your assertions seems humble on the surface, but it is actually an epistemological claim (a claim to knowledge) of the most dogmatic type: namely, you claim to KNOW what the most meaningful thing is for a person to say. Again, I ask you, “How do you KNOW this?” Says who? And by what authority?

    • Randy

      So on this view, Jesus never taught about God, the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom, sin, salvation, the end-times, Satan, creation, the nature of humanity…and on and on and on. Everything he taught was theology. I think you missed the point of the article. Everything one says about God and anything related to God is theology. Everything in the Bible is theology. As Jesus said to the Sadducees, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29-33; Mark12:24-27) The Sadducees didn’t understand the power of God for resurrection, but also were wrong because of bad theology, a poor understanding of the Scriptures.

    • GeoLW

      The teachings of the Jesus revealed in the Gospels are deeply theological. He proclaimed the Kingdom/Reign of God (a theological reality), preached repentance, proclaimed that He came not to nullify the Law and the Prophets (i.e., the Old Testament), but to fulfill them, spoke of His relationship as Son to God the Father, etc. He may not have used the categories of technical theology, but everything He taught was saturated with a theological point of view.

  • ounbbl

    What does it mean by theology? Whose theology? Which theology? Perhaps you mean doctrines – all doctrines (church, religious, political) are men-made.

    • GeoLW

      “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine…” (Paul the Apostle writing to Timothy, a pastor he had trained, in First Timothy 1:3, ESV).

      “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9; the Apostle Paul describing the qualifications of a “bishop” or “overseer” in the church).

      Since you claim that “all doctrines…are men-made”, does that include the “sound doctrine” that the Apostle Paul speaks of in these passages?

      By the way, “doctrine” simply means “teaching,” and since “theology” is “teaching about God”, “theology” is simply a synonym for “doctrine.”

      • fractal

        Doctrine doesn’t “simply mean ‘teaching'”.

        Calling something “doctrine” states that it is a “belief”.
        And those who challenge beliefs held by the powerful, are labeled heretics.
        Sometimes they are imprisoned, shunned or killed.

        However, iconoclasts are necessary for personal psychological evolution as well as cultural advancement, regardless of how uncomfortable their assertions make you feel.

        • GeoLW

          “Doctrine” is a word that can be used objectively or subjectively. Objectively speaking it is a body of teaching. (That’s how I was using it in previous responses.) Subjectively speaking it is belief based upon that doctrine. You yourself have expressed your “doctrine” (your “belief”) in your posts. For example, in your statement above that “iconoclasts are necessary for personal psychological evolution as well as cultural advancement” you are expressing your beliefs (“doctrine” subjectively considered), beliefs based upon your worldview (your “doctrine” objectively considered).

          Every community, religious or otherwise, “orthodox” or “heretical”, has to establish and maintain community norms in order to guard the integrity of that community, and in order to pass along intact the community’s beliefs and values to future generations. Such community norms represent the “orthodoxy” of the community in question. Regrettably, the various segments of the historic Christian Church, and other religious communities, have sometimes been too entangled with the civil authorities and have used the violence of civil sanctions, including torture and death, in order to maintain their community norms and the belief system that undergirds such norms. This was very very wrong and sinful on the part of the church, but the historic church as a whole has repented of these past sins and reformed itself in this area. Nowadays churches that seek to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible use spiritual means (such as membership vows & obligations, instruction, spiritual care, and in extreme cases church censures for those who persist in impenitence) to guard the integrity of the Christian community. Jesus Himself instructed His disciples in how to do this and to maintain peace within the Christian community in places like Matthew 20:15-20 (which, for those of us who look to the Bible as our authority, is viewed as binding).

          What I said above about religious communities is true of any human institution and community. For example, if you belong to a community of like-minded individuals, I’m sure you would not want someone who holds to my beliefs to become a member of and thus exercise influence or leadership within your group. So you would probably want me and my “types” excluded from your community until such time as we would come to share in your vision and ideals; i.e., you would regard me as a “heretic” from your point of view. That would be enforcing your “orthodoxy”, your “doctrine.”

          Everybody has an “orthodoxy” of one kind or another, and everyone (Christian or not, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, communist or capitalist) seeks to enforce their orthodoxy within their community and to exclude those regarded as “heretics” from their perspective. There are good ways and bad ways to do this, but everyone does it because it is unavoidable in protecting the integrity of communities.

  • I couldn’t agree more. It’s inconsistent to say that you love God, but don’t really want to know much about him. Paul makes clear in Ephesians 4:13-14 that the body of Christ is supposed to grow in maturity so that we are not swayed by every wind of doctrine. There isn’t one of us who couldn’t stand to be MORE grounded in God’s Word rather than less.

  • alan

    Then at the other end of the pendulum are those that worship the intellectual study of theology so much, they don’t know Christ or the Holy Spirit. They’re “holding to the form of godliness but denying its power.”

    And there’s plenty of theological views out there that are so dogmatic (and are usually named after a “great” theologian), it becomes bad theology.

    • Willow

      In all things moderation.

  • Maltnothops

    “Even atheists, by their own self-admission, are going out of the way to classify themselves by an a-theological position. The great efforts made to publicly deny God are, in and of themselves, admissions of the great importance God plays in our world.”

    First, as far as I can tell, the overwhelming majority of atheists do not “deny” gods. They are unpersuaded of their existence. Most theists, on the other hand, “deny” most gods. To avoid confusion, you might want to distinguish between people who affirmatively assert that gods do not exist (“anti-theists” or “gnostic atheists”) and people who are absent belief in gods (“atheists” or “agnostic atheists”).

    Second, agnostic atheists don’t, as a general observation, think “God” plays any more of a role in the world than Christians think Ganesh plays a role in the world.

  • tovlogos

    Theology — The study of God — is the glue that binds biblical doctrines. The Trinity is a theological
    designation such that it is biblically sound, in fact it is impossible to miss — man didn’t “make biblical doctrine up, he studied
    the Scripture and saw the obvious. The Bible, Messiah, Father, Holy Spirit, angels, Man, sin, salvation,
    the church, prophecy and its fulfillment and all have their place in biblical theology. No man made up
    the doctrine of Christ, God, the doctrine of the Bible or the HS. They are there for us to study and
    by which to be sanctified — it is expedient if there are worthy teachers who can systematically make these subjects
    more quickly understandable and at the same time edifying. Theology is an overlay of spiritual reality, which is intimately
    connected to human reality applicable to the human soul, heart, mind. Everything Jesus said was Spirit…spiritual John 6:63, and
    pointed to heaven, John 3:3, confer John 1:24-33; 4:2,24, for starters.

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  • Randy Thompson

    To say “I don’t need theology” is another way of saying “I don’t like to think.” Whatever “Jesus” appears without theology is too often a superstition and not faith. We all have varying abilities when it comes to thinking, but the point is to use what we’ve got. Thanks for making this point.

    • fractal

      You have forgotten about experience.
      The experience of Goddess is not about faith, theology or superstition.

      Theology is for those who haven’t yet come to know themselves well enough to experience Goddess directly.

  • I have recently realised that the armor of God in Scripture is all related to STANDING. Once we grasp that we are in Christ, the attacks of doubt have no effect. The breastplate of righteousness, for example is the knowledge that my righteousness is the gift of God in Christ, etc.

    • fractal

      Sounds real Butch.
      And arrogant.
      Insecure, too.

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  • Alan Drake

    And your view of Quakers (especially those with unprogrammed worship) whose founders decried “notions” I.e. formal theology?

  • GeoLW

    I think the problem is that many Christians have been taught to approach the Bible either moralistically (as if it were a book of moral tales, like Aesop’s Fables), or sentimentally (as a sort of Divinely-inspired “Chicken Soup for the Soul”). The Bible, and the Jesus of the Bible, are deeply theological. But if you read the Bible with a moralistic or sentimentalist lense (as many believers have been trained to do), you will miss the rich, soul-sustaining theology it offers.

    • fractal

      Are the Vedas deeply theological?
      How about the Tao?
      The Eight-fold Path?

      • sg

        I am not too familiar with those, so I can’t say.

        Theology is about God. Are those about God? If not, then, no.

        • fractal

          You say you have a degree in “religious studies”, but don’t know about these VERY BASIC tenets of Eastern spiritual paths?

          Guess it depends on how you define “God”, as to whether Eastern Philosophy is about God.
          Is it the Fire God that early Jews worshiped as a burning bush?
          Is it EL, the misogynist Jewish war god of a small mountain, that we are talking about?

          Really, our stories of Goddess are simply our highest ideals put into mythology.
          Perhaps if your bibble college had offered an objective course in Comparative Religion 313, you would know so.
          Seriously, you get a third class education at a bibble college; too bad.

          I will say that the Eastern Path sees the way to Divinity as immanent, whereas the Abrahamic Triad seeks God as a transcendent personality.

  • Willow

    Another version of this is how some Christian denominations claim that “the Bible is [their] only creed” and that they do not add “men’s teachings to the Scriptures.”

    In reality, they almost always accept the generally accepted historical interpretations of the Bible from the patristic writings to the Reformation (and beyond).

    The interpretations are theology.

    It’s impossible just to pick a book and construct a faith without some kind of established interpretation.

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