Updated: Aug 1, 2019
Theology matters, plain and simple. There's no getting around it. Many people in the post-modern, emerging church crowd will argue that it's just personal opinion, and it's not worth fighting over. "We need to focus on unity and love, not on theology which divides" is what is being taught in churches across the country. While it is important that we to focus on unity and love (Ephesians 4:1-16), it is important to remember what we are to unify around. 1 Corinthians 13:6 says, "Love... rejoices with the truth."
When dealing with the issue of standing up for truth, the Bible is very clear that it is our responsibility to accurately handle God's Word and only teach the truth, not any other variation. John 4:24 says "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." 2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth."
You may ask, "Why does theology matter so much? I mean, why does it really matter whether you believe in election or free will, creation or evolution, or whether you need to make Jesus your Lord AND Savior or just your Savior? It does matter, and here's why: Your theology changes the way you live your life, your view of God, and how you do ministry.
Let me give you an example. You might say, "It doesn't matter whether God chooses you or you choose God, as long as we both believe that Jesus is the only way." While that may be true from strictly a salvation perspective, that is not true from a biblical, theological perspective. Why? Because our theology changes everything that we do. What we believe changes the way that we live our lives. To give you an extreme example, what if you believed that your house was haunted? Whether or not it was true, your belief would change the way that you live in your house. You might move, you might make sure to never be alone, you might jump every time you heard a sound. It doesn't matter if it is true or not, it changes the way you live in your house.
The same goes for your theology: your theology changes the way that you live. If you believe that God gives us free will without election, then the way that you do ministry will be much different than if you believed in election. What would a ministry that believes in free will look like? Those churches are typically what we refer to as "seeker-sensitive" churches. They believe that we need to make church attractive to the world in order to draw them in. This means that the music needs to be the latest Christian hits, the pastors sermons need to fun, entertaining, and non-judgmental, and the church service needs to be focused on the non-Christian; or the "seeker." This seeker-sensitive church believes that the world won't accept us or our God unless we make it appealing, which means that we need to try to convince the unbeliever to accept God by being just what they want.
The problem with this philosophy of ministry is that the focus of the church is on the wrong thing. The Christians in the church are not getting the Bible teaching that they need in order to grow spiritually, and the non-Christians are only hearing the parts of the gospel that are not offensive. So, what happens is that you can fill a room because you are cool, entertaining, and non-confrontational, but these people will never mature into godly Christians, because you aren't giving them what they need; you are only giving them what they want.
A church that believes in election, is the opposite. Their ministry is focused on those that are already saved. While many "free willers" will say that this style of ministry is self-absorbed and selfish, it is actually the philosophy of ministry found in the Bible. So what is the process that these "Calvinistic" churches typically go through? First, the service is focused on God and believers. This means that the worship is used just for that... WORSHIP. The preaching is focused on teaching the believers out of the Bible what God has to say to them, typically through expositional preaching. The church teaches Christians how to live their lives and share their faith, and then the believers go out into the world to win the lost in their circle of friends and acquaintances. Once those friends and acquaintances become Christians, they are brought into the church to repeat that cycle. The church should not be an evangelistic meeting, it should a place of worship and equipping, and then evangelism is done out in the world.
So, do you see why theology is so important? That's just one example of how it influences our daily lives and the way we do ministry.
Instead of fighting to eliminate theology from our lives, let's fight to keep it in the forefront, because it changes everything about us. What we believe about God will directly reflect upon the way that we act towards God and the way that we live our lives. Proper theology is important not just for the knowledge, but for the application of that knowledge into our lives.
"Always (be) prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15
I wrote this post 7 years ago, almost to the day. I came across it and wanted to share it with you. I might do a few more throwbacks in the future, as I come across any more of my writings from the past.