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 The Distractions and Worship of Theology

I remember seeing a Christmas card years ago which had this saying,

...The Word did not become a philosophy or a theology or a concept to be discussed debated or pondered.

But the Word became a Person to be followed, loved and enjoyed...

During my 15 or so years in Calvinism. I forgot that Jesus had called me into a relationship with Him. About 2 or 3 years into the simplicity and beauty of the Jesus movement some brethren thought I needed to be discipled. They said I needed to grow. Their idea of growth was to introduce me to the 5 Points of Calvinism. Thus, my walk with Christ revolved around the 5 Canons of Dort. I would fellowship with brethren whose idea of spirituality were the theological books they had on their book shelves. We would proudly say that we were steeped in the theology of the Puritans. Many times we would say with pride we studied at the feet of the Puritan divines.

In the few times that I would look at the scriptures. The verses out of 2 Corinthians 11:3 would bring conviction to my heart,

... But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ...

This is what Calvinistic theology did to me. For 15 or more here it led me away from the simplicity and purity of a devotional relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was only by the grace and love of Jesus that I had to fight my way back to something of my first love for Him that I had during the Jesus movement.

Theology destroyed my first love for Him. For me, theology became a head trip. And my heart was left cold devoid of a love for Jesus.

Jesus warned the Pharisees in John 5:39-40,

... You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, it is these that testify about Me and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

One could almost see the Pharisees with their pointers, reading the Torah from right to left. Perusing over every word. And yet failing to see the fulfillment of the Torah standing right in front of them. Failing to see their Messiah, who fulfilled over 300 plus prophecies of the Old Testament. Failing to come to Him, the Living Word who would give them life. The Pharisee saw that their life was bound up in the Old Testament scriptures.

Yet very little has changed since the days of the Pharisees. We in evangelicalism have our Pharisees. They are called evangelical theologians. They write books about theology. They do systematic studies. They do scripture, exposition and exegesis. We elevate the professional theologian and clergyman. as a mediator to stand between us and God to break open the Word.

In the chapel at Reformed Seminary there is this 9 foot tall pulpit. It must be mounted from either side by a steep flight of stairs. The brother, who was given me a tour of the seminary, said that the pulpit symbolized the exalted Word of God. And those who sat in the chapel were to give attention to the person who broke open the word of God. This is the best pictorial representation I can see of the worship of theology. Of the worship of those theologians who stand as mediator between God and man. We accuse the Catholics of having the priest stand between them and God. Yet we have our own traditions in our own Protestant background. We exalt the Calvinistic or evangelical pastor who is trained in scripture exposition as one who must break open the word of God. The evangelical pastor stands as mediator between God and man.

In the midst of all of this, I have to ask what has happened to the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus? What has happened to a simple, beautiful relationship with Him? Did Jesus ever mean for His New Testament to be turned into a theology textbook? Did Jesus ever mean for men to write books about His New Testament? Did Jesus ever mean for men to stand as teachers between God and men? That only such men trained by seminarians were capable of teaching the word of God to ordinary individuals?

I have to ask what has happened to the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit? I do not mean the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit as vested in theologians? But the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit as Him revealing truth to humble hearts who seek Him.

We love to echo the cry of the Reformation of Sola Scriptura. But there must be a caveat attached to that. Sola Scriptura as only taught by the professional evangelical theologian. In our cry of Sola Scriptura, we have forgotten about the priesthood of the believer. That is that every person who has a relationship with Jesus Christ is capable of taking the scriptures and discerning truth of the Lord Jesus Christ as taught by the Holy Spirit.

I fear that the worship of theology has replaced the worship of Jesus. I fear that the professional theologian has replaced the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit.

These are simply my thoughts.

Bro Blaine

 2017/4/3 8:36

Joined: 2006/9/16
Posts: 2016

 Re: The Distractions and Worship of Theology

So a innocent remark or two from me about the contoversy in some quarters that surrounds penal substitution becomes a broadside against theology or a supposed worship of it. The worship of theology or the word was absolutely light years away from my thinking as I made a few brief remarks that I thought might be interesting and generate a few remarks. It's amazing how folks can take simple things and run with them. My my!

David Winter

 2017/4/3 8:47Profile

Joined: 2006/11/26
Posts: 3494

 Re: The Distractions and Worship of Theology

Brother Blaine,

I agree with you that because men love their own opinions more than the teaching of the Holy Spirit illuminating the scriptures that these endless discussions on theology have drawn many away from the pure devotion to Jesus Christ to the eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


 2017/4/3 9:36Profile

Joined: 2006/11/26
Posts: 3494


He is the Word. "In the beginning was the Word", and the meaning of that designation is just this, that God has made Himself intelligible to us in a Person, not in a book. God has not first of all written a book, although we have the Bible. God has written a Person. In one of his little booklets, Dr. A. B. Simpson has this illustration, or illustrates this thing in this way. He says that on one occasion he saw the Constitution of the United States written, and it was written on a parchment. He was near to it, and could read all the details of the Constitution of the United States. But as he stood back from that parchment, some yards off, all he could see was the head of George Washington there on the parchment. Then he drew near again and saw the Constitution was so written in light and shadow as to take the shape of the head of George Washington. That is it. God has written the revelation of Himself, but it is in the Person of His Son, the Headship of the Lord Jesus, and you cannot have the constitution of heaven, except in the Person, and the constitution of heaven is the Person in the shape of God's Son.

This is only an affirmation of things. I do trust you will take hold of the fact stated and go to the Lord with this. Do not ask for light as some thing; ask for a fuller knowledge of the Lord Jesus. That is the way, for that is the only living way to know Him: and remember God always keeps the knowledge of Himself in Christ bound up with practical situations. That cuts both ways. We have to be in the situation. The Holy Spirit will bring us, if we are in His hand, into the situation which will make necessary a new knowledge of the Lord. That is one side. The other side is that, if we are in a situation which is a very hard and a very difficult one, we are in the very position to ask for a revelation of the Lord.

T. Austin Sparks


 2017/4/3 10:23Profile

Joined: 2008/10/30
Posts: 2007

 Re: The Distractions and Worship of Theology

Men who didn't...

1) forget that Jesus had called them into a relationship with Him.
2) get led away from the simplicity and purity of a devotional relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.
3) Let theology destroy their first love for Him.
4) Let theology become a head trip.
5) Let their heart grow cold devoid of a love for Jesus.

Arthur W. Pink: 1886-1952
Augustus Toplady: 1740-1778 (author of “Rock Of Ages” and other hymns)
Benjamin Keach: 1640-1704
B.H. Carroll: 1843-1914
Charles Spurgeon: 1834-1892
Francis Schaeffer: 1912-1984
George Mueller: 1805-1898
George Whitefield:1714-1770
J.C. Ryle: 1816-1900
J.P. Boyce: 1827-1888
John Bunyan: 1628-1688 (author of Pilgrim’s Progress)
John L. Dagg: 1794-1884
John Foxe: 1516-1587 (author of Foxe’s Book Of Martyrs)
John Gill: 1697-1771
John Knox: 1513-1572
John Newton: 1725-1807 (wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”)
John Owen: 1616-1683
Jonathan Edwards: 1703-1758
Martyn Lloyd-Jones: 1834-1892
Martin Luther
Matthew Henry: 1662-1712
Roger Williams: 1603-1683
William Carey: 1761-1834 (missionary)
William Wilberforce: 1759-1833 (slavery abolitionist)
Paul Washer
David Platt
D.A. Carson
D. James Kennedy
James Montgomery Boice
John Piper
Albert Mohler
Voddie Bachham
Wayne Grudem

As one man said, "I became a theologian that I might be a better pastor."

The above men mentioned above are only a few of many. And they're not named to become objects of worship.

But we are to give honor(not worship)to whom honor is due. We are to recognize the gifts God has given each, and give thanks to God.

And as for the many other questions in your post, they deserve answers as well. Answers that only each individual can give after examining themselves, and God illuminating them lest they deceive their own selves.

Our experience is, SIMPLY, our experience. It is NOT the rule!

So many people, so many experiences! An experience, whether yours or mine, is not an argument. It IS SIMPLY an experience.

Some experiences are good and right, some are not.

"The foundation of God stands firm, He knows them that are His"

 2017/4/3 11:41Profile

Joined: 2012/6/10
Posts: 225
United States


Men who didn't search the bible for systematic thoughts and doctrines but instead walked in life in the truth of Christ and by His guiding in their day to day life and in His wisdom not limited by the bible but confirmed by it:

James (lesser)
James (greater)
Judas (not iscariot)


A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Let's look back to the rock from which we were hewn, which is Christ and, as the scriptures attest, the apostles he set forth to teach whose writings we have. It seems risky to cite anyone but those whom Christ and the apostles attested to. Who says spurgeon walked in the fullness of Christ? For me I don't know but I can see a stark difference between his teachings and those of Paul's. Surgeon (just picking on him because hes very well known) spent a great deal of time trying to decipher Paul's writings rather than walking as Paul walked. Not that he's a false teacher or bad but why quote and cite men such as him and not rather listen to what Christ and those who were taught by him instead of men who, however well meaning, may have unintentionally been deceived by the 1900 years that have had a chance to distort christianity. Unless you believe it's been continued and preserved regardless of man's faults in which case I would recommend joining the Catholic church who do have a distinct and true lineage hearkning back to the church of the apostles. The way is narrow and few there be that find it.


 2017/4/3 12:38Profile

Joined: 2006/11/26
Posts: 3494


A.W. Tozer hits at what is at the root of the problem of men that worship the dead letter of the law without the Holy Spirit. They idolize their own human reasoning without being led by the only guide (Holy Spirit) that can give us illumination and understanding of the scriptures.

"A man can receive nothing." That is the burden of the Bible. Whatever men may think of human reason God takes a low view of it. "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" Man's reason is a fine instrument and useful within its field. It is a gift of God and God does not hesitate to appeal to it, as when He cries to Israel, "Come now, and let us reason together." The inability of human reason as an organ of divine knowledge arises not from its own weakness but from its unfittedness for the task by its own nature. It was not given as an organ by which to know God.

The doctrine of the inability of the human mind and the need for divine illumination is so fully developed in the New Testament that it is nothing short of astonishing that we should have gone so far astray about the whole thing. Fundamentalism has stood aloof from the liberal in self-conscious superiority and has on its own part fallen into error, the error of textualism, which is simply orthodoxy without the Holy Spirit. Everywhere among conservatives we find persons who are Bible-taught but not Spirit-taught. They conceive truth to be something that they can grasp with the mind. If a man hold to the fundamentals of the Christian faith, he is thought to possess divine truth. But it does not follow. There is no truth apart from the Spirit. The most brilliant intellect may be imbecilic when confronted with the mysteries of God. For a man to understand revealed truth requires an act of God equal to the original act that inspired the text.


 2017/4/3 14:11Profile

Joined: 2008/10/30
Posts: 2007

 Re: defeatist reasoning

"It seems risky to cite anyone but those whom Christ and the apostles attested to."

Why bother reading anything anyone posts on this forum. Why am I bothering reading anything you've just written. You then go on to say this regarding Spurgeon,

"I can see a stark difference between his teachings and those of Paul's."

Apparently, what you see Paul teaching, differs from what Spurgeon saw Paul teaching. So you do adhere to a teaching. Unless all you do is quote Scripture, and make no comment or explanation at all.

You then say,

"Surgeon spent a great deal of time trying to decipher Paul's writings rather than walking as Paul walked."

How do you know this! Were you there?

Do you read no book but the Bible? Do you not listen to anyone preach or teach from the Word of God?

If you do, you're not living according your own words in this post.

 2017/4/3 14:22Profile


Powerful, penetrating words from our brother Richard Wurmbrand...

...The Bible is a wonderful book. It is the truth about the Truth. It is not the Truth. A sermon taken from the Bible can be a wonderful thing to hear. It is the truth about the truth about the truth. But it is not the truth. There have been many books written about the things contained in the Bible. I have written some myself. They can be quite wonderful to read. They are the truth about the truth about truth about the Truth. But they are NOT the Truth. Only Jesus Christ is the Truth. Sometimes the Truth can be drowned in a multitude of words...

I believe our dear brother in Christ has best summarized what I am so pitifully trying to convey in this thread.

Bro Blaine

 2017/4/3 14:43

Joined: 2006/9/16
Posts: 2016

 Re: Your false assumptions

/I believe our dear brother in Christ has best summarized what I am so pitifully trying to convey in this thread./

Besides using the penal substituion thread to insert your own obvious disdain for theology which had nothing to do with the original OP in that thread you have thrown a kind of one size fits all accusatory blanket over any and all theologians. You falsely assume that all theologians have succumbed to reliance on their own minds etc and have jettisoned any reliance on the Holy Spirit and worship theology. It's an urban myth in the church. What a disservice to repeat it.

A former Pharisee can be unwittingly prideful that he's not caught in the pride of the Pharisees anymore.

David Winter

 2017/4/3 14:57Profile

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