Don’t Let Theology Become Your God
- November 02, 2017
- Jared Odenbeck
Theology is of great value. To believe, think, and speak right things about the LORD is good. In fact, in Jeremiah 5 God’s anger burns against those who “have spoken falsely of the LORD” (Jeremiah 5:12). It is of seemingly vital importance then, that we believe and teach correct things about the LORD and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But, in that pursuit, I have set correct theology on the throne. My pride in my positions robs me of the sweetness of beholding fresh knowledge, revelation, and teaching, and the LORD himself. Conversations with friends often break down over points of contention that result from my stolid refusal to budge or entertain other positions. Some prefer to no longer discuss those points anymore due to my unrelenting fervor for them. I dismiss churches over doctrinal matters. I build walls, trenches, and moats (some with crocodiles for extra measure). In my insecurity, I grip the truths that I blanket myself with and draw from them for security.
But this is not what Scripture calls for. Over and over again in the Psalms, we see the cries of David and Asaph as they proclaim that the LORD is our hiding place and our shield (Psalm 119:114) and our refuge and our fortress (Psalm 91:2), both in the everyday and in the day of trouble. It is the LORD. Not thoughts about him. Not truths from him. But him himself.
I must come out from behind my theological shield and the cover of doctrinal truths to behold Truth himself. In settling for for academic and scholarly conclusions, I stick my toe in the water and fail to plunge into the deep where He awaits. I must gaze into His fiery eyes – the End of these truths. I must see him – the personhood of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – in equal and great measure and in awe and wonder.
Furthermore, I live in a life that is both a mystical and spiritual reality, yet I largely turn it into a natural one in which all things are defined, organized, and sorted in a row. In doing so, I miss out on the mystery, the unknown, and the adventure of the Gospel – loving, treasuring, and following Jesus Christ through and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Butas John Mark McMillan says in his song ‘Carbon Ribs,’ “I’m a dead man now with the ghost who lives within the confines of these carbon ribs.”
Yes, spiritual comforts flow from resting in biblical truths. But, biblical truths were never meant to take the place of the Word himself (John 1:1). I want to see the LORD in everything that I learn from his Word. I want to be satisfied by the living water, because anything else will fail to quench what I long for (John 4:14). I want to treasure the person – not the abstraction or the concept – of Jesus Christ more than anything. I want to lose myself in him. I want to be found in the house of the LORD all the days of my life (Psalm 27:4).