I heard a statement from someone that “theology divides the body of Christ” which is a dangerous statement to make when left alone like above.
“Theology” means the study of God and if someone is simply JUST studying God, then they may not necessarily be a Christian because being a Christian means having a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lee Strobel and C.S. Lewis were men who set out to study God by studying the Bible and found Christ! They have a trusting relationship in Christ who they have “studied” and found to be true. This would not have happened had they not read the Word and had the Holy Spirit not revealed Who He truly is because many men read the Word and are still lost in their sinful disobedience (look up passages on the Pharisees because they knew the Word but had no relationship according to Jesus who said their father was the devil in John 8:44).
The way we learn more about Christ is by reading His Word and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal Him to us so that we can know Him personally. It is technically a “study of God” but in a relational and is often called “theology.” We do this with public preaching of the Word, relational small groups, and one-to-one personal ministry of disciple-making (like Biblical counseling).
Theology in the context of a relationship with the Holy Spirit is not a bad thing. The more we have intimate knowledge of God, the more we will trust Him. Theology in that sense is not divisive but unifying – uniting us with Christ!
So the original statement that “theology divides the body of Christ” is a dangerous statement that needs further exploration and explanation. That sentence out of context is awful to me but it misleads some to think that reading the Bible is not important when it is!
Instead of saying such a provocative thing, I would simply say that “theology outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ will produce Pharisees and legalists which will only bring more division in an already divisive world due to mankind’s sin.”
I would say in a positive way that we are ALL theologians who are studying God. Some of us have a relationship with Christ and others do not. But we all study God and long to know Him. The problem is those who are not trusting in Christ do not know Him and the only way that they will come to know Him is by reading the Bible and by the powerful revelation of the Holy Spirit. Both elements – the Word and Spirit – are required (Eph. 4:15) to know God personally and intimately – just ask C.S. Lewis or Lee Strobel.
The person who makes such a statement either does not know Christ or does not understand that theology is a good thing within the context of reading the Word in relationship with the Holy Spirit. I want to say this emphatically: studying God for just knowledge of Him is not what God desires. God wants us to walk, talk, and think about Him in relationship. But it is NOT WRONG for Christians to study God since we are all theologians who need to know God in a greater way!
I strongly believe that this statement is dangerous and encourages Christians NOT to read and study their Bibles!!! I prefer not to make such divisive statements as “theology divides the body of Christ” because it is divisive to say such things! It is arrogant and prideful and promotes isolation and independence when God has created us to be dependent upon His revelation of Who He is and how we are to relate to Him. We would be LOST without the Word of God and His Spirit!
If anything, theology unites us to Christ and His people when the Holy Spirit and the Word are involved!
I am thankful for the faithful teachers of the Word in the Birmingham, AL, area like David Platt (Brook Hills), Harry Reeder (Briarwood), Buddy Gray (Hunter Street), David Nasser (Christ City Church), Thomas Wilder (Bethel Baptist in Collegeville), Chris Burns (Bethel Baptist in Moody), Jeff Robinson (Philadelphia Baptist Church), and Kevin Hamm (First Baptist Gardendale)! And there are many others who are at smaller faith families, too! These men teach theology in relationship to Jesus Christ and it is leading many to Him by God’s grace!
-Mark (I am studying God but more importantly I am relying upon God to reveal to me Who He is because my personal study bears no fruit without Him)