Monday, November 3, 2014

What's Good or Bad About Theology?

What is the difference between "good" and "bad" Theology? I like this definition form my friend Carey at "The Grumpy Theologian":
...If we dig back into the history of Christianity we find that periodically ideas pop up that are denounced as incompatible with the non-negotiables of the faith. If we dig a bit deeper we find that the most common reasons for these denunciations are pastoral. Docetism (Jesus was divine but not human), Ebionism (Jesus was human but not divine), Arianism (Jesus was neither human nor divine), and a number of other heretical "-isms"are denounced because their teaching has implications that obscure Christ's mediation between God and humanity. In other words, these doctrines are false because they point their adherents' eyes away from the Jesus of the Bible to a different Jesus, one built on human speculation rather than divine revelation. The consequences of believing a false Gospel are catastrophic if we listen to the New Testament (and we must do that listening if identifying ourselves as "Christians" is to mean anything substantive). Bad theology is bad most fundamentally because it is bad for the soul. It points hope toward things that ultimately disappoint (which is what happens when we try to make gods for ourselves out of anything other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) or it crushes hope altogether. False hope and no hope are both bad for the soul.

So far, so good, but what does this suggest about how we should go about doing goodtheology? Let me make a suggestion: Good theology is good for the same reason that bad theology is bad. Both have to do with how they function in pointing us to God. Bad theology is bad because it mis-portrays God and thus hinders our growing closer to Him as He really is. When our relationship to God is stunted by bad theology we suffer from soul starvation--an impoverished theology leads to an impoverished spiritual life. Now let's consider the flip-side of that statement. Good theology is good because it points us to God as He truly is (or, more properly, "Is"). Good theology facilitates transformative encounter with God and fosters ongoing, life-giving relationship with Him...
More worth reading at the link.