There are many subcategories or areas of study within theology – each with their own names. You will be seeing these as we progress through this series.
For now, I want to zero in on an issue that some quibble over on the topic and that is in regards to division.
Theological differences have created splits throughout redemptive history. In fact, they have been going on since before Christ came and God’s followers began to be called Christians. The question at the heart here – was this division bad/wrong?
There are those today who see arguments made in regards to theology, see the divisions or lines in the sand drawn, and then proceed to over-react and label anyone standing staunchly on a particular theological position as effectively in the wrong or the downfall of the faith.
Their concern isn’t completely unfounded, sadly, as there are those who like to “major on the minors” as we say and will break fellowship with other believers over the tiniest differences of position. We do need to be aware of our limited-ness as created finite beings; however, this does not mean that God made us incapable of understanding any of His truth.
In fact, there are those from within the ranks of Christ and from without that have a false notion that theology is therefore bad because of their experiences with individuals who did as I’ve described. They are right to be concerned and to point out that there is a problem but their conclusion misses the mark.
Division is NOT the enemy here. Confused?
Christ said of Himself that “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one can come to the Father except through me”. Jesus isn’t mincing words here. He makes it quite clear that there is only one right path that it is through Him. There are NO other ways. As such, a natural division forms – those who come to the Father through Christ and those who do not. In other words, there are two groups of people – those in the Lord, His followers, and those who believe they have a different way commonly referred to as unbelievers.
This is a very simple theology that is quite plain in the Scriptures and it is clear that God is making a division. What’s more, many of the divisions that have occurred within Christendom were the result of heresies – refusals to submit to God’s revealed truth as found in Scripture.
So does theology divide? You bet!
Is it supposed to divide? Again, absolutely!
The people who start shunning theology, as a result, are making a theological stance to avoid anything potentially divisive and the truly sad thing is they commonly take it to the point of denying Scripture or saying they cannot definitively know. Not much of a faith at that point as they can no longer truly stand on anything. Granted there are those who will try but their logic is self-defeating. Either they’ll inevitably drop their claimed position under God or they will come to see their error and begin standing on God’s truth. …or worse they’ll try to insist on falsehoods and call it God’s truth – heresy.
So in summation & to finish:
- We shouldn’t make the minor topics of Scripture into major points of contention such that we break fellowship with one another. (I do recognize that this can be difficult as some will argue over what is minor & major)
- We engage in theology (the study of God) as we learn more about Him. You are either doing this or you are not; you are either learning truth or falsehood.
- Christ Himself divides the world – division is an intent here. Don’t take my word for it. Check out the following: John 14:6, Hebrews 4:12, Matthew 10:34, Revelation 1:16…
- We should be patient with one another as we grow in our understanding of God and the faith. We are all of us on a journey before God. When in error we need to be willing to lovingly direct the one in error.
- There should be division where people or individuals insist on standing with any view that disregards God’s revealed Word to us found in Scripture.
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