Question: When Does Doctrine Become Idolatry?

Anonymous asked:

Do you think it is possible for good theology to become an idol? And if so, what is the balance between loving good theology and doctrine and “idolizing” it?

Not only is this possible, but it happens all the time. 

With the Reformed Calvinist movement taking off with Gospel-Centered Idolatry — oops, I mean “Centrality” — and pragmatic cold-hearted preachers who care more about theology than people, it’s no wonder that people outside the church hate on the church.  There’s a ridiculous amount of inhouse fighting and 95% of it is straight up stupid.  It’s over secondary, tertiary, barely-important matters. 

You’ve noticed a new quickness with accusations of heresy and blasphemy, when most of the blogosphere has no idea what that means.  Most of that is just self-promotion and trolling.  I’ve been called a lying witch abortionist by a so-called Christian (over this post on my other blog).  Like my good friend Unka Glen says, if you’ve pissed off a “religious” dude then you’re probably doing something right.

A major consequence of this whole flag-raising garbage is becoming a Gatekeeper of Theology, where you think you get it and no one else does.  That’s categorizing into an elitist caste system, which the Gospel came to utterly destroy. 

I say this without apology: guys like Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries plus a handful of bloggers at The Gospel Coalition are almost certainly going to hell.  I’m not kidding, and I say that with absolute grief and sickness in my stomach. It doesn’t matter how many “good things” they do or how well they raise their family, because it’s so obvious they’re dividing the church — and no good works can make up for that.  Jesus loves them and so do I, but they have to stop the nonsense. 

Here’s a test. Question: Is Jesus coming back to rapture the saints before or after the tribulation of the saints? Answer: Jesus is going to come back, so how about shut your mouth and stop splitting your church over this and just obey the IT IS WRITTEN.

When Jesus comes back, all these Q&A conferences and theology camps and Reformed Calvinist snobs and loveless theologians won’t give a crap about tiny doctrinal differences.  Jesus is coming back with a sword sticking out of his face, his head on fire, a tattoo up on his thigh, holding seven stars in his hand, riding a warhorse and his robe dipped in the blood of fools he just killed, and you’re arguing over what?

In the words of a much wiser man — at least about secondary doctrine — That’s just like, your opinion, man.

But please also allow me the humility to say that doctrine does matter.  I praise God for humble scholars, hard-working theologians, and intelligent pastors who can think light years ahead of others.  While I wouldn’t hang out with all of them (pretty much only C.S. Lewis, who by all accounts had an awesome personality and pranked all his friends), I definitely appreciate their exhaustive work.  To some degree, they’ve helped us all think clearer about the Bible.  And we can’t simply “be virtuous,” but also must have correct thoughts about God.

The best way to balance good theology is to recognize where it belongs. More specifically, where it belongs for you.  If it’s pushing you towards a greater love for God AND for people, then good.  If it’s not, then there’s a deeper issue going in your heart where information is somehow more important to you than revelation and transformation. 

I was a victim of Seminary Syndrome, coming out a clone of hyper-conservative values and an uptight exegetical mentality.  I totally loved my seminary years and all the professors there, but they don’t teach you how to love people, or even how to confront someone in their sin.  In the end, if your study of theology is not aiding you into loving people with truth, then forget it.  Put down the books, dig into the Bible, get serious in prayer, and ask God to uppercut your soul.  While you’re at it, go serve the poor and knock on doors with the Bible.  That’ll humble you real quick.

Francis Chan — Think Hard, Stay Humble

Francis Chan — Taking God At His Word


7 thoughts on “Question: When Does Doctrine Become Idolatry?

  1. Yes yes yes! I couldn’t agree more with you! In the past, I’ve been so afraid of the Church and all of its theology debates! I am up for theology discussions, because it makes us look at the bible ourselves and study it, but when it comes to such a highly heated debate, it drives us away from the Church.


    1. That was a huge fear of mine as well. Often I’d worry about saying something slightly wrong with doctrine or maybe not have the “correct” conservative value on a cultural issue. Fear of man is a powerful motivator in all the wrong ways.


  2. Hey friend!

    I agree with so much here but let’s not underestimate the value of doctrine. Arrogant doctrine is to be condemned…absolutely! Actually, arrogance in general is to be condemned! But you wouldn’t have even written this post if you didn’t have a doctrine about doctrine…or idolotry -:). Just my opinion – but a lack of a confirmed doctrine can be as much of an idol as steadfastly holding to one. Idols are ubiquitous. Anyway, I so agree we tend to major, to our own detriment, on the minors. God help us keep our hearts and mind focused on Calvary. There we can find a doctine worth clinging to.

    Thanks for listening – grace and peace to you!

    PS – Ken Silva has attacked me too…but I still hope he goes to Heaven -:)!


    1. Thanks for your thoughts here. I absolutely agree, and tried my best to cover that in the third to last paragraph. I perhaps should have emphasized it more.

      P.S. — Getting attacked by Ken Silva is like a rite of passage for us “heretical” bloggers. And I do hope by the grace of God he makes it in.


  3. Whoo hoo! You’re my kinda preacher. (grin)

    Tell it!

    Seriously, I get so tired of the stiff, starchy, stodgy, ultra saint that is “perfect.”
    Nobody’s perfect, last I checked..

    Jesus never peered down from a lofty perch, too good to mix with the “unwashed masses.” It would do all of us good to remember that. Had He been some kind of goody-goody, He wouldn’t have been able to have dinner with saints and sinners and draw the crowds He did.

    Jesus was authentic; I think this is key.


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