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"I Don't Want to Know About God, I Just Want to Know Him" . . . And Other Stupid Statements

Added to the “. . . And Other Stupid Statements” series.

Albert Einstein once said “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing . . . so is a lot.”

I have been in discussions with a gentleman who reads this blog and, occasionally, will take one of my theology courses. The main topic of discussion is the necessity of theological discourse for the average Christian. Whether it be big words, concepts, or ideas, this gentleman does not think such things are necessary for the Christian life. He prefers the simplicity of loving God and leaving the rest to the theologians. His basic argument is that such things can and often do take away from our ability to live the Christian life due to their “side-tracking” nature.

Let me paraphrase a comment he would typically make:

“Whether you are a Calvinist or an Arminian, a traducianist or creationist, believe in soul sleep or intermediate bliss, believe in transubstantiation, consubstantiation, or memorialism, none of these ultimately makes any difference. In fact, these beliefs serve more to bring about sinful divisiveness than anything else.”

In other words, this is illustrative of those people who would say, “I don’t want to know about God, I just want to know him.”

This attitude with regard to theology is not uncommon at all. In fact, it seems that it has a lot of truth to it. It would seem that simplicity in our confession and faith would ultimately bring about the most unity and acceptance as well as provide more energy for the things that really matter. Right?

Well, if you are saying that more knowledge is dangerous, I agree. Knowledge can puff up. Knowledge can provide ground for strong opinions, lack of perspective, and, ultimately, division. But if you are saying that because of the dangers of knowledge it is not worth the risk, I disagree.

Let me give you an illustration that I think provides a sufficient parallel to the current issue. Knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot. Knowledge of what? Well, anything. But most specifically, we could apply this to relationships. When we enter into a relationship with someone, we take risks. Relationships involve us becoming vulnerable. When we allow someone to get to know us, there is always the possibility of misunderstanding, rejection, and a sort of Trojan horse pregnability of our heart. The same is true concerning those with whom we enter a relationship. Knowledge about them is dangerous. Not only for them, as they expose themselves, but for us as we put our own idealism about them on the line. In other words, you may know someone from a distance who you have placed on an idealistic pedestal. Once an opportunity comes for you to deepen that relationship, closing the blissful distance, you are entering into dangerous territory. Why? Because now you are opening yourself up to knowing the real person. All masks will soon come off and then you will have to nuance this relationship based upon your more up-to-date and accurate knowledge of the person. This process is certainly reciprocal and it is risky—it is dangerous—for both parties. While new discoveries will certainly bring about joy and depth in the relationship, they can also bring about a great deal of pain and emotional distance.

When the fear of relational knowledge becomes so great that people guard themselves against all forms of vulnerability, disorders follow: schizoid personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder (AvPD), social anxiety disorder. Such people become closed and guarded, hoping that this will leave them protected, safe, and secure.

While people might rationalize their timidity due to the reality of the dangers that are involved when knowledge is attained, this rationalization is misleading. The avoidance of knowledge causes us to neglect a basic need of humanity—intimacy.

I fear that this is often the case when people rationalize their avoidance of theology. Theology is simply coming to understand God at a deeper level. Yes, there are risks, just the same as any relationship. There are risks of misunderstandings, changing your ideals, opening yourself up to criticism, and coming to know both the wonderful and (what might be perceived to be) the not-so-wonderful things about God. There is also the possibility of division and strife as you defend what you believe to be true. But is this really any different than any other relationship?

What I find is that people have a theological disorder when it comes to truth. They are theophobic (theology, “study of God” + phobia, “fear”; or veriphobic (veri, “truth” + phobia, “fear”). Really it is simply a rationalization of some sort of a Theology Avoidance Disorder (ThAD). It is saying to God that you are not interested in coming to know about him, his word, or his truth (at least in any detailed way), but you, nevertheless, want to experience all the benefits of the relationship.

Symptoms of Theology Avoidance Disorder:

  • Increasing apathy toward theological issues
  • Belief that theological discussions are counter-productive since they often cause divisions
  • Isolating one’s theology from their relationship with God
  • Separating “devotional time” from “study time”
  • An increasing antagonism toward labels

But let’s continue the illustration. Women, how would you feel if your husband or boyfriend approached you the same way? What if he said, “Listen, I want to have a relationship with you, but I really don’t want to know too much about you. If I do, I may be disillusioned and you may not like me. There are also going to be opinions that I have about you may not be shared by others who know you, such as your mom, dad, and brother. Therefore, if we are to have a relationship, let’s keep all knowledge to a simple minimum. I don’t want to know about your past, future plans, or anything that might make me uncomfortable. Nothing divisive. Just give me your name and tell me that you love me. That will be enough.” The answer is simple. You are asking for a superficial relationship that protects your ideals and is “safe.” But the reality is that it is not a relationship at all.

I know that this illustration is simplistic, but it does catch the mood of what I am trying to say. Ignorance is bliss, but bliss is not God’s will for us. He is not asking you to be in a minimalistic blissful relationship that is safe. Nothing about knowing our God is safe in that sense. It will often cause confusion, disillusionment, hurt, division, and distance. But isn’t that the truth of all relationships? They also bring about joy, comfort, hope, peace, and unity.

God has invited us to take the risk of coming to know him. He has revealed himself and provided a lot of information about himself. The Bible is filled with knowledge of our God. A little knowledge of him is dangerous . . . so is a lot.

I am not saying that knowledge is all there is to our relationship with God, but it is foundational. The effort to come to know God, even if we come to some wrong conclusions, is an indispensable part of the process of “doing” the relationship. It is the same in all relationships.

Either way, the adoption of a Theology Avoidance Disorder is not a Christian option.

32 Responses to “"I Don't Want to Know About God, I Just Want to Know Him" . . . And Other Stupid Statements”

  1. Michael, how eerie. I thought of that same example in relation to similar comments that has come across my radar this week. In fact, I even put it in the blog post I’m working on although with a slightly different twist.

    I have had this come up recently as well, that knowing God can somehow be achieved with information about Him. Dichotomies created between intellect and emotions. A dear friend and fellow classmate (unfortunately) told me I should study and write from my heart rather than approaching the Biblical text intellectually and writing from my passion of theology. As if, understanding the information and thinking theologically is contradictory to having a heart impact. It really grieved me, is all I can say.

  2. Sorry, I should have clarified about the example – the relationship analogy of a husband or boyfriend who does not what to know anything about a woman.

  3. I knew a fellow once, who fell head over heels with a woman. He described her in terms by which no one who really knew her would recognize. No one could believe he was speaking of the same woman they knew. He had conjured up a fantasy woman, and imagined that this gal was her. She was not. She was nothing like he imagined her to be – not even close. I’ve never been sure who to feel sorrier for, her or him.

    Anyway, we can do this with God as well. When we refuse to know who God really is, we fill in the absence of truth with false information from our fantasy. We imagine God as we hope He is, as we want Him to be. This is the essence of idolatry.

  4. I’m really enjoying these “Stupid Statements” posts! Having grown up in the charismatic movement I have experienced more than my fair share of TAD. But I’ve never understood the “cut-your-head-off-now-that-you’re-a-Christian” stance, and that has caused me some issues amongst my peers…chalk it up to experience! For what it’s worth, my opinion is that TAD is at least partially a result of Gnostic dualism and its influence on the Christian understanding of true spirituality. Somehow there has to be an integrated (I purposely avoid “balanced”) understanding of the importance of renewing and using one’s mind, as well as experiencing God beyond intellectual assent to a set of theological propositions. Without this integration, don’t we risk becoming either hyper-spiritual and “kooky” or sterile and systematized?

    Personally I love theological study – it has enriched my love for God and His world!

  5. Your posting this is the most ironic thing because I had this exact conversation with my brother-in-law two days ago and somewhat with my father-in-law a few weeks ago. My brother-in-law basically said if the discussion has no benefit for witnessing and the Christian life then it dosent matter and he dosent care to get into it. This statement revealed to me that he has a very narrow view of the gospel and its implications for our lives. It was a very sad conversation. Whats really throws me is they are both Sunday School teachers. They both say that they just try to do practical things. Since I am trying to get through seminary, want to be a teacher and love to read that I am interested in things they will never be and I dont expect them to be. However, as you pointed out, if we do not grow in our knowledge and understanding about God then we will never grow in our relationship with God. I always get hit with comments like, “Did you learn that in seminary” or “Ok seminary boy.” It is sad to my wife and I that while we share a common bond in Christ with them our relationship with them will only go so far because they dont care to do what it takes to go further.

  6. EVERYone has a “theology”, even the unchurched. We all build our own totems, carve our own images. The difference is only in those things we utilize to guide us in our construction of it. The danger is in thinking we have already achieved its finality and in thinking we, ourself, have no need of Him in accomplishing the task.

  7. Good one, Michael. See this for a real-life, sad scenario along the same lines.
    Tickler: “I once had a customer ask what I thought of a particular book that she was considering as a gift for her daughter. I told her that while I had some concerns about the author’s view of God I liked much of what he had to say. Her response took me back, “I don’t care what he thinks about God. I just want my daughter to accept Christ.” With nothing else said she bought the book.”

  8. While I don’t disagree with what you are trying to say, I am concerned about the lack of emphasis on a critical point regarding our relationship with God.

    CMP said, “I am not saying that knowledge is all there is to our relationship with God, but it is foundational.”

    While there is some truth to this, it excludes a more important aspect of the relationship: experience.1 Certainly knowledge can help us make sense of experiences, but knowledge acquired by being known by God, spending time with Him, and observing His work in the world is by far a more powerful form than that which is gained through more Aristotelian methods.

    (I often tell new clients that my first task is to get to know them, which is not just knowing facts about them – e.g., they have a temper, they are phobic, they are histrionic – but how things affect them and how they are likely to perceive things. I can’t get that from intake forms; I get that from spending time with them. They may very well be angry, phobic, or histrionic, but that’s not all they are or an accurate reflection of who they are. Until I spend sufficient time with them, I am profoundly ignorant of how these various features interact and influence one another in this individual person.)

    Let me ask you this: is knowledge of God better learned by reading Charnock or Tozer, or by studying the relevant chapters in various systematic theologies? or by reading my Bible hungrily and regularly, looking not for categories to impose on God (aseity, omnipotence, sovereignty) but instead absorbing how God reveals Himself in interaction with the world and people?

    You might say that we can do both, and of course you would be correct. But that is not to say that this is the best use of our time.

    For example, knowing where my wife was born, grew up, went to school, courses she took, etc., does not produce intimacy; it produces information. I genuinely know my wife by living with her, coming to realizations about her, and witnessing the totality of who she is as a person. I have not written down anywhere her attributes, as though that would help you know her or me to know her better.

    Similarly, I (epi)know God because of 35 years of being known by Him. I knew systematic theology after the first two years of being saved – but I really didn’t know God intimately. It has been my experience with God and His revelation of Himself in His word – not my extrabiblical knowledge of Him or careful cataloging of His attributes – that have resulted in my truly knowing him.

    Is knowledge important? Of course. But more important, I think, is how we acquire that knowledge. God is dynamic, not static, and does not reveal Himself in categories but as a complex, integrated Person.
    ___________

    1 If there is anything that evangelical/fundamental Christians fear, it is experience. All experiences, we believe, must be immediately filtered through our theological grid to see if it is acceptable to us or not. In short, we assimilate (force into preexisting neural categories) experiences with God rather than accommodate them (create new neural categories).

  9. Thanks all,

    Mike, what I would do is put your thoughts through the normal human relationship illustration and see what happens. I think you will find that experience includes coming to know about them or it is very shallow. Same as I said above.

    Again, there is simply no such thing as knowing God and not knowing about him. Knowing about something is foundational to truly knowing and experiencing it. There are way too many people out there that I know who “experience” Jesus, but when they describe him, it is not Jesus, but something they have created for facilitate their experience.

  10. My point was and is about how our knowledge of God is gained and the power of the knowledge acquired through study or experience. That knowledge which is valuable, transforming, and true is that which is learned through experience, not formal study.

    Try this: provide us with a systematic knowledge of your wife and then compare that with your own knowledge of her after how-ever-many years of marriage. The former will be technically accurate, perhaps, but cold; the latter will be intimate and powerfully true.

    Quite simply, the difference between knowing about a person – or Person – and knowing the person is enormous. It is the difference between knowledge and understanding:

    42.1 ¶ Then Job answered the LORD and said,
    2 “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
    3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
    4 ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
    5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You;
    6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” – (words of God as quoted by Job in bold italics; my emphases of Job’s experiences in bold.

    Lost in our apologetics and theodicy over the Book of Job is a vital lesson: Job knew about God but it was not until he had personal experience with Him that Job came to truly know Him.

    In short, Job knew systematic theology. But he was quite ignorant of who God really is. We need to understand and heed this critical difference.
    ___________

    B.N. – For the record, I teach systematic theology whenever I have the chance. But I do not teach it divorced from my own or my students’ experience of God in daily living or as illustrated in God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture.

  11. Conversely, I could have written a blog entitled, “I don’t want to know God, I just want to know about him.” That would be a stupid statement too. But I have never really heard that. Seen it some, but nothing like like its opposite.

  12. Michael:

    I think non-believers cling to that very sort of “stupid statement”; I’ve seen it far too much. Anyone can know systematic truths about God but that doesn’t mean they know God.

  13. “B.N. – For the record, I teach systematic theology whenever I have the chance. But I do not teach it divorced from my own or my students’ experience of God in daily living or as illustrated in God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture.”

    For certain. Systematic theology includes that which we learn about God through our emotions and experience. Theology is done in and with our experience.

  14. If there is anything that evangelical/fundamental Christians fear, it is experience. All experiences, we believe, must be immediately filtered through our theological grid to see if it is acceptable to us or not. In short, we assimilate (force into preexisting neural categories) experiences with God rather than accommodate them (create new neural categories).

    If experience is regarded as an authoritative source of revelation how do we know that Mormons are incorrect? After all they have (or claim to have) a burning in the bosom that confirms the truth of the Book of Mormon.

    Comparing the relationship between God and man to the relationship between men and women (outside the issue of authority in which Paul used it) is somewhat… I think demeaning is the only word I can use to follow that. Jesus is my Lord and my Saviour. I live for him, and (hopefully) I’d die for him. It is not the same kind of relationship that I have with my fiancée (although hopefully I’d be willing to die for her too).

    The God/man relationship is a vertical one. We know no more about God than he chooses to reveal to us. The man who seeks God is wholly dependant on God allowing himself to be found. The importance of a correct theological understanding is that it allows us to distinguish between truth and falsehood. To determine that we are actually pursuing a subordinate relationship with the Creator of the universe, and not with a construct of our own minds, a mental disorder, or a demon.

  15. I think a large part of TAD in the church today is something we have done to ourselves. We have so many shrill voices on the different sides of the issues saying “if you don’t believe this way then….”. It gets to the point that people just don’t want to hear it anymore. They’d rather be ignorant then have to deal with the approach many take to teaching theology (which basically amounts to believe what I believe or else). Christian’s can have a wide variety of beliefs (even many that are incorrect – I’m sure I have more then a few) and still be Christians. I think if people felt the freedom to disagree and work through various issues in a constructing and supportive manner TAD wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

    This issue is a problem not just at the pastoral level, but at the layperson level as well. I can’t help but wonder the number of people who have sat in a Bible study and wanted to express doubts or question what was being taught and didn’t because they were afraid of being condemned (I’ve even heard of people being asked to leave Bible studies for asking too many questions). This in turn creates a rich environment for people to leave the faith because they have doubts in their mind which the either can’t express or they are condemned for expressing if they do express.

  16. Who said anything about making experience “an authoritative source of revelation”? The discussion was about how we come to know God intimately, not how God reveals himself. Of course we know God through revelation – I have not argued otherwise – but knowledge is not enough.

    Your introduction of Mormons into the thread is a red herring and an attempt to disprove my point via guilt by association. I’m not persuaded. My point earlier was that an individual can know more systematic theology than most believers and still be lost. It still stands.

    What do you do with the passage from Job? Is there nothing to be learned for you unless it is in the form of didactic prose?

    Following your reasoning, however, I can only conclude that you believe that personal study and/or personal knowledge (however acquired) is revelatory. Or that knowledge of God = salvation. Surely you don’t really believe that.

    Our experience of God is validated and verified through Scripture, not systematic theologies. Now, if there were a systematic theology that was capable of doing justice to the entirety of God’s revelation, I’d follow it fervently. But no such theology exists and one never will. So I choose that systematic that answers the most questions while raising the fewest problems for me – in my case, I’m a dispensationalist (small ‘d’). But systematic theology is not my basis for matters of faith and practice.

    My point stands but, at the risk of being irenic (which I loathe), I will say that knowledge of God without experience of him is non-salvific and that experience of God without God’s revelation of himself (which can be captured to an extent in systematic theology) is likely just as non-salvific. What makes experience efficacious is revealed truth; what makes revealed truth efficacious is experience.

    We need a true experience and an experience of truth. Either by itself is inadequate.

  17. I think that one direction that the articles on this site are exploring is the growing chasm between the views of graduates/students/teachers of theological seminaries and committed lay Christians (who, in simple terms, read the bible, pray for wisdom, seek to follow Jesus, etc.).

    A chasm does exist and this article is another example of that gap.

    My view is that the gap is worth exploring.

  18. Who said anything about making experience “an authoritative source of revelation”? The discussion was about how we come to know God intimately, not how God reveals himself. Of course we know God through revelation – I have not argued otherwise – but knowledge is not enough.

    You did, in the portion I quoted.

    Your introduction of Mormons into the thread is a red herring and an attempt to disprove my point via guilt by association. I’m not persuaded. My point earlier was that an individual can know more systematic theology than most believers and still be lost. It still stands.

    If a person has not pledged allegiance to Christ, then they are lost. Without some theology they will not know who they are pledging allegiance to.

    What do you do with the passage from Job? Is there nothing to be learned for you unless it is in the form of didactic prose?

    Following your reasoning, however, I can only conclude that you believe that personal study and/or personal knowledge (however acquired) is revelatory. Or that knowledge of God = salvation. Surely you don’t really believe that.

    A righteous man experiences trials that test him to the point of breaking, makes statements that after revelation from God strike him as foolish, and repents.

    Knowledge of God, combined with repentance/allegiance does equal salvation.

    Knowledge that does not produce repentance and allegiance is futile.

  19. Jason C:

    I’m not interested in having a back-and-forth with you. This is not the place for it. This thread is about knowledge of God, not matters pertaining to inspiration, illumination, revelation, or anything else.

    I expressed my thoughts. If you want to twist them for the purposes of appearing astute, you should consider doing it some place else.

  20. I’m with Dr Mike on this one.

    As with anything in our faith, it’s a balancing act.

    knowledge of God without experience of him is non-salvific and that experience of God without God’s revelation of himself
    … is likely just as non-salvific

    I know you loathe being Irenic ;-) .. but it’s well put.

    In Him
    Mick

  21. John From Down Under November 22, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Dr Mike – Sir, you could do great justice by blogging a few threads on Rosebrough’s ‘Extreme Theology’ (just a suggestion). They could do with someone like you.

    Not sure how to interpret your comment about loathing to be irenic. Are you being systematically polemic?

  22. My comment about being irenic is a joke between CMP and me.

    I think his demand that all be irenic – and he gets to define it, which is only fair since it is his blog – too often results in a passionless, impotent, domesticated and emasculated Christianity. (I was going to work “foppish” into the list – I like the way it sounds – but thought better of it ’cause it doesn’t fit.)

    If I am being “systematically polemic,” it’s purely accidental. I’m not even sure what that means.

    As for Rosebrough’s “Extreme Theology”: huh? What’s that?

  23. John From Down Under November 22, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Dr Mike – systematically was a throwaway word since this thread discusses systematic theology (that’s some antipodean sense of humor).

    Not sure if you’re pulling my leg on having never heard of “Extreme Theology” but if you truly haven’t, it is worth a drive by. All things theological and all things systematic. The mention of ‘good works’ befitting Christians or any nuances of behavioral nature tend to produce a ‘works-based-salvation’ hysteria akin to the Pharisaic ergophobia on a Sabbath. A truly remarkable display of the most creative exegetics you’ve ever seen and hermeneutical gymastics of Olympic caliber.

    These days I note its curator exercises some comment moderation but a few months ago it was, let’s say, a neo-Calvinist’s petri dish with theological bacteria mutating in all shapes and forms. Cyanide was dispensed with reckless abandon and if you read the threads without a mask on you did so at your own peril, as toxicity levels peaked (especially during discussions involving Warren, Osteen and co.). Creative sarcasm of the worst kind was also in abundance. I could imagine your initial post No. 8 above would be like a hand grenade on that site.

    OK I just about ran out of adjectives, but I reserve the right to be biased. CMP on the other hand is civil, has a healthy sense of humor and openly admits to wanting a spell checker for Xmas:)

    Release valve now shut. It is hot and humid down here and I am bothered!

  24. I think the position which many Christians (especially emergents) are now taking to which this post is a rebuttal has been misrepresented. It is not that knowledge of God is unimportant but that evangelicals have, in practice, made orthodoxy (right thoughts) all-important and orthopraxy (right actions) optional. Thus a church member would be berated for not studying the Bible or attending Sunday worship but whether or not they worked for justice is irrelevant. Final judgement will be a case of God checking the believers head…

    We all know it’s so much easier to sit around theologising and think we’re doing God’s will whereas Jesus was much more practical calling us to put into practice what we hear and warning of disaster if we didn’t (Luke 6:46-49). In a sense we read too much Bible because we know much more about what we should do than we actually do and to compensate…we read on, other passages, passages which aren’t so hard, Pauline passages which are complex and puzzling which we can argue about and buy time away from real mission.

    The point of knowing God’s will is to go out and do it and our actions are the ceiling of how good all this knowledge is for us and the world.

  25. Once again Michael a very interesting post and challenging responses. I would read one statement and then another swithing back and forth in agreement with the responses.

    In my humble opionion is does come back to balance between knowledge and experience. However I do believe that our experiences must be hinged by our knowledge foundationally.

    I have often wondered about tongues and why in certain circles it is quite common, while in my christianity” circle of belivers ” it never happens. We could ague forever whose right or wrong from a bibical viewpoint but our experiences do seem to be weighted to some degree upon our knowledge and expectations.

    In conclusion I will use the “Dr” Mike title for reference. I assume that Dr. Mike is not a medical doctor though I could be wrong. But in the case of a medical doctor they not only require knowledge of medicine but have to have practical experience to boot. I would want a doctor with both working on me. But I would think the knowledge part is foundational and the experience part would shape and build ON my foundational knowledge.

    PS I wish I could claim even a few extra letters of distinction but this comes from a born again believer who loves the Lord and wants to know all I can about him and his truths.

  26. Long-time lurker, first-time caller (I think).

    Another good post. I’ve dropped a lot of blogs from my feed-reader, but yours is one I’ve kept.

    When you quote the person you’ve been having discussions with, I can understand why someone might say that.

    I agree that it’s important to know about God, but the process can be extremely painful. Let me borrow your relationship metaphor to perhaps get my point across.

    Let’s say you approach the woman you love, to get to know her. However, while she may be talking, your inherent deafness means that you cannot communicate through the spoken word. You can’t hear her, and what you do hear, you’re not sure if you heard it correctly, or if it was the neighbour across the street yelling at her cat.

    So she writes in a blog. She writes about herself, her history, how she came to where she is today. She communicates her feelings for you.

    However, the blog is public and others are reading it too. On your own blog, you declare your love for her, and your understanding of the things that she’s written.

    However, the people who’ve been reading her blog are also reading your blog. They disagree with you. In fact, not only do they disagree with, but they are willing to endlessly debate your understanding of your beloved’s blog.

    Unfortunately, your beloved isn’t coming to your defense to tell you whether you’re right or whether you’ve misunderstood.

    Indeed, in spite of the fact that you’ve actually spent time with her, you start to second guess whether, in fact, you really have a grip on your relationship. Maybe others know her better.

    You describe your experiences, and the others tell you that you’re wrong, because it doesn’t seem to match what they know about her from her blog.

    Better still, you realise they’re right about some things; you have actually misunderstood some things about her.

    That’s not good enough though, they want you to agree with them about everything about her.

    There’s also more than one group of people determined to tell you that not only is your understanding of your beloved flawed, but the other group is SO wrong, and they can prove it from your beloved’s blog posts; and if they need to wound you deeply to do so, well so be it. They’re only doing it out of love, after all.

    It might almost be enough to make someone give up on the relationship altogether.

    I haven’t given up, but I’m wounded and weary from the battle of trying to get my theology “right”.

  27. I think the reason why people shy away from theology is because they want the freedom to define God in their own way so that he doesn’t place any demands on them.

    It’s the same reason why so many Christians read Dan Brown. They want to introduce an element of doubt so that Christianity is not binding on their will. They want to take benefits from God when they have felt needs, and then put him away when they want autonomy from the moral law.

    I have more to say on this, but I can’t write it all here. So I put it here:

    http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/does-the-bible-teach-that-faith-is-opposed-to-logic-and-evidence/

    Ironically, I actually quoted C. Michael Patton in that post, and it’s one my favorites.

  28. I think we need to consider Deuteronomy 6 again: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart (intellectual), all your soul (emotional), and with everything you’ve got.” It is… holistic.

  29. It’s one thing to study theology and learn about God’s revealed dealings with men. However it takes a different perspective to know Him as your God, to love Him like David and the Son of David loved Him. You cannot learn this in a classroom. It takes a different type of absorption from Scripture and theology.

  30. I came from a fundamentalist background and it was all theology yet I credit that with giving me a solid foundation. However I had to spend years unlearning focusing exclusively on the gospels so that I could get a sense of who Jesus was. So that I could relate to him as a person reading the scriptures as I would a novel reading with my heart putting myself in the narrative. Theology made me hard and legalistic and fearful, studying Jesus taught me love childlike simplicity and honest faith

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