I don’t know about other ministers but I seem to spend quite a lot of time responding to bad theology. No I don’t really mean bad theology I mean appalling theology.
Is it just me or is there an increasing amount of bad theology about? At times it seems like a tidal wave of rubbish coming from satellite TV and from small circulation magazines. I could give two or three examples each week. One problem is the automatic and unquestioning authority people give to those who appear on TV or in print.
There are a number of common themes to the bad theology that abounds
- Wide use of the book of Revelation with specific interpretations presented as if they are the actual text (eg Howitzers and Nuclear War are apparently specifically mentioned in Revelation).
- Ignoring the gospels entirely
- Re-writing history (one I heard yesterday was that various Popes rewrote the Bible)
- The Trinity gets ignored or subverted into a hierarchy whereby neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit is considered fully equal to God.
- Prosperity teaching
- Proof texting whereby whole articles are assembled from random quotes from scripture, ripped from context and often used to mean something entirely different, a technique loved by those who read the Bible as if it is only prophesy for today.
I find Ephesians 4:11-16 so relevant here:
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13
until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son
of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the
fullness of Christ.
we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and
blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and
craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting
ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its
I am a real believer in the importance of doing Theology in our Churches, of taking it seriously, of going deep. We are doing that together in both Raunds and Thrapston through small groups. But all the time I feel we are fighting this tide of flotsam that is so easy to receive, that encourages people not to think or reflect and which is focused on agendas that seem far away from the Misio Dei.
Henry has linked to this in Threads from Henry’s Web » Prosperity Gospel is not Good News with the comment:
Dave Warnock, on his blog 42, wrote about bad theology,
and included the prosperity gospel as an example of such–rightfully so.
I’m aware that, as one of his commenters noted, this is debated. But
just because there is debate doesn’t mean that such debate is
justifiable. I don’t mind those who believe God will bless. Where I
think there is an unequivocal problem is where preachers and teachers
assure people that if they just give, even if they can’t afford it, God
will bless them multiply. That is not God’s plan for supporting
Henry also links to Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Prosperity Gospel Victims with the comment:
From a somewhat different perspective, Ed Brayton wrote on prosperity theology,
and provided excellent examples of just why this is wrong. He brings up
the issue of just where we can begin to call this fraud from a legal
point of view. Since many religious claims are viewed as fraud by other
religious people, the religious liberty issue is difficult. But as an
individual, I have no such problems. The extreme claims of prosperity
theology prey on vulnerable people.
Ed’s post is worth reading, as are the comments.
The problems of the prosperity gospel are doing the rounds at the moment. One good post is: Doing Theology from the Caribbean: The "Get Rich Quick" Approach to Religion.