Why I Argue About Theology

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I’m tired of arguing about theology. It seems like it never ends. This guy says this. The other guy says that. They both use the Bible. And in Adventist circles they both use Ellen White as well. How annoying! Like I said, I’m tired of arguing about theology. A quick glance at the history of the Christian church from the first century to the 21st reveals that since the very start we have been arguing about theology. Arguing about doctrine. Just when you think you have it figured out, someone places a label on your beliefs, and then proceeds to refute everything you came to love as truth. So you retaliate. Then she retaliates. Then others get involved. Pretty soon there is a huge schism in Christendom. Sides are picked. Division grows. The battle begins and just when it seems that a victor is about to emerge someone else pops out with a new thing to argue about and it all goes back to square one. In the meantime scores of people in India and the juggles of Brazil die without ever hearing the simple, beautiful name of Jesus. I’m tired of arguing about theology.

However, I must keep arguing and I’ll tell you why. There was a time when arguing about theology and doctrine was nothing more than proving why my Biblical interpretation is better, more logical, and more rational than the other guys. The more I engaged in this kind of arguing, the wearier I got and the less I enjoyed the Bible, theology, and doctrine. But just this morning, I have encountered a paradigm shift. I will no longer argue about doctrine to prove myself right or to prove the other girl wrong. Doctrine has only one purpose in the Bible – to reveal to us who God is and what He’s like. That’s it. That’s the purpose of doctrine. Because of this, I have no choice but to continue arguing about theology; because some theology is so skewed it totally messes up the true picture of who God is and what He’s like. However, I will no longer argue in order to prove anyone wrong. From now on I will simply present doctrine as a means for people to see who God is and what He’s like. Everything else I’ll leave in Gods hand. As a Christian, my only responsibility is to lead people to Jesus and disciple them. He handles the rest. So from now on when I present doctrine, or argue about theology it will be with one goal in mind: To help others see who God is and what He’s like. Here are a few examples:

Doctrine of Creation: This doctrine has serious implications. If God created us as the Bible says He did then He is a loving and amazing God who is not only all-powerful but intimate as well. However, if He created through evolution as some argue then God is a mad scientist who uses death and killing to accomplish what He wants. That’s a scary God! You can’t have both of these. Only one of them is true. Which one is it? The truth has serious implications about who God is and what He’s like.

Doctrine of Salvation: Are we saved by how good we are? Are we saved by how good God is? Or both? One’s view of salvation can make or break ones picture of God. As someone who has struggled with legalism and perfectionism I know this first hand. When you discover that salvation is by grace through faith alone it sets you free and shows you how gracious God really is. When you believe you have to do something in order to be saved or to stay saved then you come to see God as someone who is constantly looking for an excuse to keep you out of heaven. Only one of them is true. Which one is it? The truth has serious implications about who God is and what He’s like.

Doctrine of Hell: Is God a sadist? Does He enjoy torturing people for all eternity in fire? Or will He punish the wicked by putting an end to their life instead of confining them to an oven for the ceaseless ages of eternity? (Even Hitler wasn’t that cruel!) You can’t have both of these. Only one of them is true. Which one is it? The truth has serious implications about who God is and what He’s like.

As I said before, I no longer argue theology for the sake of showing myself brighter and wiser than everyone else (partly because I'm not). From now on, theology has only one purpose for me. To show people who God is and what He’s like. In the end my hope is that all who hear can, with John the apostle, say “God is love.”

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