You know those little kids that tell other little kids that Santa Clause isn’t real or that the Tooth Fairy is actually just their parents? Would it surprise you if I said I was one of those children? I was.
Honestly though! It was difficult for a child as extroverted as me to keep such knowledge to myself. If I knew, why shouldn’t they? They had been led astray in their thinking and it was my self-given duty to enlighten them. At least, that’s what I thought. Of course, I didn’t anticipate the flow of tears that followed my announcement.
This really wasn’t the worst of it, though. My most repeated offense was correcting the theology of my Jr. Church teacher. The poor lady was so patient; I’m sure she sighed inwardly whenever my hand went up during her lesson. I’d like to say I just had a passion for the truth, which I did, but mostly I was just a little girl who didn’t have a clue about not saying everything that came to mind.
I’m glad to say I’ve matured a bit since then. I’ve learned to respect people for their position and, if I can, encourage them where I know they’re right, rather than constantly pointing out areas of fault. But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost my passion for truth. If it’s fitting, I’m always willing to express what I believe, not because I enjoy correcting people, but because truth is important and harmful if misunderstood.
Jesus says in John 17 that God’s Word is truth. Knowing this, it is crucial that we are serious in our interpretation of the Word of God, because it’s not just some book off the shelf that we’re dealing with here.
If I tell someone that God has promised to never give them more than they can handle and then they find themselves in a difficulty that is beyond what they can endure, they will very likely become angry with God and believe He has not kept His Word. Why? Because they did not read His Word in the first place and discover that God never gave such a promise. So in the end, I may believe I’m encouraging them with these words, when really I’m hurting their faith by telling them something untrue.
Bad theology isn’t just bad because it’s faulty, but because it’s harmful to the people who are mislead by it.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. -Colossians 2:6-8