I love theology.
I love studying Scripture–looking at the Hebrew and Greek and poring over commentaries and reading theologians from the ages. I love fitting it all together, this great story of God’s interaction in history. I love those ah-ha moments.
I am that nerd.
The nerd who doesn’t understand this question, “Yes, but what does that have to do with my life?” The nerd who highlights and dog-ears pages in the Baker and Eerdmans and IVP catalogs. The nerd who still wears clothes from college but keeps up with the latest archaeological trends.
I love theology.
And because I love theology and figuring out things and because I think that what we believe matters (not just that we believe), I disdain what I perceive to be wrong theology.
Especially when, in my eyes, this wrong theology damages relationships or the hurting or the Church or the world. When we misunderstand (or misuse) what God was and is doing, yes, I think it’s harmful.
So I condescend these misunderstanding theologians, pastors, writers. How could any good come from such leaders?
Then one day, two people whom I love dearly found themselves in the church of a pastor I spoke about with outrage and indignation and exclamation marks, a man I consider to have poor exegesis and not just bad but offensive theology, and these two people whom I love dearly grew in Christ in a way I had not witnessed in them before.
And I shut my mouth.
You may not realize the enormity of that statement. Or you may. But I, who loves debates, who has an inherent belief in right and wrong, especially when it comes to theology, who has no issue sharing my thoughts on all things theological even when it offends others, buttoned my lips and smiled because God was working through this fallen, stubborn, wrong-theologied man.
I remember that story in the gospels where the disciples come back and reported to Jesus how they stopped a man who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name because this man did not number among Jesus’ chosen, intimate Twelve. And Jesus said, “Oh, you pompous idiots. What the heck is wrong with you? What makes you so special?” (or something to that affect).
I think of Priscilla and Aquila gently and privately pulling Apollos aside to train him instead of taking him down in witty tweets and facetious tumblrs because though he was a charismatic and powerful leader, he had gotten a couple of things wrong.
I meditate on Jesus’ prayer for us just before he died for us, that we–all believers everywhere–may be one, unified, and that his love for us may be in us.
I consider the walls Jesus tore down that we build back up to protect our own reputations as Christians, to distance ourselves from those not like us whether in theology or politics or lifestyles (or any other number of reasons), to perhaps elevate ourselves (look at our correct theology and our wit!). We say spiteful, degrading things, attacking not only the theology but the person (I saw one person tweet that he was cheering for the opposite team of a certain pastor).
And I mourn.
I mourn my conceit, and I mourn the disunity of the Body of Christ, those who at different times and places share communion, the body and blood of our Savior.
And I wonder why God chooses to use any of us–fallen, stubborn, misunderstanding men and women more caught up in ourselves than in the work he is doing.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t have healthy, respectful, loving debate and discussions with each other. I still love the intricacies of theology. I still love figuring things out. I still think it honors God when we want to know him better. I still think it’s important to hold each other responsible for the things of God.
But I don’t think we honor him or know him better when we mock one another and–in public ways–seek to harm reputations.
As for me, I resolve to cheer when God uses others for his kingdom work–even those with bad theologies or the wrong credentials or worse! no credentials!–and to pray for a theology of love.