Why Do the Theologians Rage?

Why Do the Theologians Rage?

As we lay hold of the tool that is Christian theology and contemplate God and all things in relation to God, we ought to be transformed into the kind of people who can be described by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Division and discord are growing sicknesses in our day. We’re separated into ever-fracturing tribes, and the “us versus them” mentality has developed a gravitational pull. What’s more, talking heads who tell us our problems and worries come from those we disagree with saturate the screens in our homes and pockets.

The church isn’t safe from the disease of division. Our feeds offer us a steady diet of self-affirming articles that state how this political election or that theological disagreement will make or break us. When the stakes are constantly elevated to do-or-die levels, we justify any tactic that gives “our side” an edge in the war. Denominations, churches, and church members who once enjoyed unity now grow apart. Those we used to march with arm in arm are now at arm’s length. It seems our culture is ever more eager to draw lines in the sand and ever slower to listen with love. As our tribalism grows, our ability to nuance diminishes, and it becomes difficult to pursue Christian wisdom. 

We watch Paul’s warning in Galatians 5:15 unfold: “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Hyperbole, straw-manning, and intellectual suspicion poison the tongues of some of our most popular theologians. Why have theological leaders given in to cultural division? What can we do about it?

Roots of Theological Malpractice

Much of what’s done in the name of “theology” in our day is described by the list of vices listed in Paul’s “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19–21. It’s not hard to think of examples of theology leveraged in envy, selfish ambition, outbursts of anger, and dissension. Yes, sinful flesh is at the root of our division.

1. We’ve misunderstood theological clarity and confidence as a replacement for wisdom.

We don’t measure sincere devotion to the Lord by the memorization of theological logic. Yes, God intends theological knowledge as a means of sanctification, but theological intelligence isn’t a valid reason to neglect emotional intelligence, relational intelligence, or cultural intelligence. Christian sanctification is holistic, and while theology is a necessary ingredient, it’s not in itself sufficient. We’re called to love the Lord not just with all our mind but also with all our heart, soul, and strength (Deut. 6:4–7).

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