In the quest to better understand theology, one ingredient is tragically often missing.
Oftentimes, we become so convinced that a principle we have learned from scripture is right, that we respond with a “how dare you” reaction should someone question it. We believe our “truth” is self-evident. We want to understand God better, and in our godliness, we wish everyone else would understand God like we do.
However, we need to be challenged on this perspective, and ask each other some hard questions. For example: does your study of God enable you to look down on other Christians who don’t believe the exact same things you do? Before dismissing this question out of hand, ask yourself: “Is my church happy that it is better than all the other churches in my region? Does my theology enable judgmentalism and/or partiality? Is your church primarily concerned with making sure that its members properly understand this or that doctrine, or is its chief concern telling the gospel–that unites all of Christendom–to those who have never heard it?
Don’t get me wrong. Understanding theology is important, and investing time studying God’s Word is critical. However, as we do this, we must realize that we cannot completely understand the mysteries of Scripture. If we could fully understand God, He would not be God. When we think that we can completely understand God, we will discover that we have made Him in our image, and have not known Him at all.
We must study theology humbly. We wrestle with a book we will never fully understand in this life, grappling with paradoxes that we must eventually trust by faith. How is God three yet one? How can God be fully God, yet fully man? How can a good God allow suffering? How can God be sovereign, yet man still have free will? I don’t know the answer to these questions. No one, no matter how much they have wrestled with them, can fully explain these paradoxes. Yet these paradoxes are central to Christianity, and we accept them by faith.
I Corinthians 13 begins by teaching that something is much more important than having loads of knowledge, that love, in fact, is more important than proper theology. Humility is crucial to love, and crucial to our pursuit of truth. We must approach the study of the sovereign, eternal God with humility. His ways are higher than ours, and there is great to joy to be found in reveling in the mystery of Christianity. If we presume that every point of theology we believe is unquestionably correct, our arrogance will drive us into isolation.
God is too big to be put into a box. So, don’t expect to understand every aspect of Christianity. Work to understand it better, but do so knowing that some of the things you believe are probably wrong, and don’t lose sight of the deep mysteries of Christianity.