My “Theology Matters” shirt never fails to spark conversation or earn me funny looks. But I’m sure it’s frequently misunderstood.
I’ll give you a hint: “Theology matters” is not making a statement about Christian supremacy.
Religion News Service has an article describing how many American Christians are ambivalent about social justice. Their faith doesn’t motivate them to care about the marginalization of people outside their own communities — much less act to help them.
More Than Just a Personal Relationship
There are many factors contributing to this apathy. One is a false teaching that Christianity is nothing more than “a personal relationship” with Jesus. You ask Jesus into your heart to be “saved,” and that’s it. No further transformation is necessary. There is no further effort required on your part to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.
We’re expected to “go and make disciples.” But that just means making sure other people are “saved” too.
This individualized faith is a modern invention. It is not the faith of the disciples, or of the early church.
When scores of people in the country’s largest religion don’t care about others, it makes an impact. And not a good one.
Recognizing “Good” and “Bad” Theology
Unfortunately, it’s easier to recognize “bad theology” than good. Even non-Christians recognize bad theology when they see it in action.
“Bad theology” is picketing military funerals and holding signs that say “God Hates Fags.”
“Bad theology” enables parents to disown their LGBT teenagers.
“Bad theology” motivates “pro-lifers” to storm abortion clinics with guns.
You get the idea. Theology matters a lot.
By contrast, “good theology” points back to Christ. Good theology builds up rather than tears down. It tells the truth with love, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Sound theology may still turn people off to the gospel, but at least it does so for the right reasons. The gospel may be offensive, but Christians themselves should not be.
Theology Matters for the Church’s Future
Theology about an impersonal, indifferent God results in an impersonal, indifferent faith. Far from being a “liberal agenda,” social justice is what the gospel looks like in action. Our personal salvation is but a slice of the bigger picture: the ultimate redemption of our fallen world. Injustice anywhere should break our hearts enough to stir us to action.
If we worship a God who only cares about our personal comfort, we can’t complain when people decide Christianity is not worth following.