Good theology leads us into a deeper understanding and trust of the nature and persons of God. Bad theology, on the other hand, distorts our understanding of who God is, fostering distrust. So, how can there be “beauty” in bad theology?
My experience in ministry has shown me, time and again, that bad theology is an expression of our wounded hearts. The steady stream of thoughts that bounce around in our heads are jam-packed full of theology, some of it good, and some of it not-so-good. In many parts of our lives, the theology of our hearts is good theology. We know those places through intimacy with God, others, and of course, fruits of the Spirit. Where I experience interior peace, hope, love, joy, etc., the theology of my heart likely matches up with the truth of who God is. Good theology, all around.
And, here is the beauty of bad theology. Where I do NOT experience interior peace, hope, love, joy, etc., the theology of my heart reveals my distorted understanding and relationship with God. It shows me exactly where I have been wounded and attacked by the enemy, and exactly where God desires to touch my heart and soul. It shows me where I do not trust God.
Since our emotions are really the language of our hearts (not our hearts, just the language they speak), try this exercise for yourself. Pay attention to the emotionally charged thoughts that come into your mind, and the issues in your life to which they are attached. Listen for these kinds of statements/emotions:
· I’m all alone.
· Nobody understands me.
· Everybody hates/rejects me.
· It will never get better.
· I can never have what I desire.
· I am forsaken/abandoned.
· I’m not good enough.
Each of these statements represents bad theology that resides in the heart, which ultimately, represent distorted beliefs about ourselves and God. The scriptures, of course speak truth directly to these beliefs of the heart. After all, I “know in my intellect” that I am not alone, that God understands me completely and loves me as I am. You may well even hear the scripture citations in your head, “I knew you before you were born”, “I will not leave you orphaned”, etc. But, the scriptures also tell us “As a man believes in his heart, so is he.” So, while our heads may “know” good theology, the wounds in our hearts often “believe” bad theology.
So, the next time you hear one of these rotten theological apples, resist two key temptations. Resist the temptation to “kick it upstairs” to your intellect at the expense of your heart. And resist the temptation to shame and self-loathing. Instead, recognize that Almighty mercy is knocking at the door to your heart. It is the overwhelming goodness of a loving Father saying, “Let me into this place where you don’t trust Me. I want relationship with you right here. In this pain and hurt, I want to bring healing and mercy and grace. My heart for you is deep and abiding intimacy- with Me.”
Paul writes in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him…”. Yes, even in the bad theology in the deepest places of our wounded and scarred hearts. Especially in the places where we do not trust Him, where we may not even love Him, He is working for our good. He is working for your good. Pay attention to the beauty of that bad theology, for that is His fertile ground.