This post is written in response to the many posts I have read recently across blogtopia courteously condemning to hell those whose theology disagrees with theirs .
There is a reason we shouldn’t judge others based on their works, or their theology. It's because we aren't smart enough to, and every single one of us has enough wrong with our theology that if we were to be held responsible for our bad theology, we would all surely burn in hell, each of us.
If you disagree with someone's theology, because it isn't like yours, yet they say they believe in Christ, who are you to question their salvation? What could be said about your doctrine that could cause someone else to say, "that Tom, I don't think he's REALLY saved." Come on, you know there are parts of your theology that would cause Christ to cringe. You just don't know where you are wrong.
We don't know what is wrong with our theology, yet we would presume to judge another? That is the blind leading the blind. Maybe you know an awful lot, and maybe you don't. Let God be the judge, that's what He's there for. It is ours to love our neighbor as ourself, and to love God wholeheartedly. There are no commandments beyond these two. Judging our neighbor does not fall into the category of loving our neighbor, at all.
So what are we to do? Continue to question another's salvation because his theology seems more whacked out than ours? If the measuring stick is perfection, then we are all whacked out when it comes to theology. Can any of us claim that we aren't?
I would rather live one small piece of truth, than know volumes of worthless theology. I say that because living the truth and knowing the truth intellectually are two very separate things. Living the truth is by far the better.
All this discussion about theology can be of benefit, but when we start hinting that because one's theology differs from ours he isn’t truly a believer, we are crossing the line from edifying discussion to outright judgment of another based on works. That's right, theology is a work, it is a man made study of God. It is worthless as far as salvation is concerned. The gospel, and scripture are foolishness to those who are perishing.
Read Paul's testimony, which he gave three separate times in the book of Acts. His main focus was always on what God had done in his life, as a witness to the gospel of Christ. Yet here, in blogland, are we now to abandon this wise way of sharing the gospel, and return to the fire and brimstone which is penal substitution?
You may not agree with me or my theology, but I stand by the statement that a man cannot even understand penal substitution before He has the Spirit of God living and breathing within him. He may have glimpses of what it's all about, but his eyes, having not yet been opened to the truth, will not grasp the theology of penal substitution.
But he will understand testimony and attesting signs. He will understand love. He will be drawn to peace, and hope of eternal life. These things are the things by which a man will listen to the gospel. The gospel is good news, not guilt news. Since we are free from The Law, why would we introduce someone to Jesus through the Law?
If the Spirit of Truth is not within the man, then we blow nothing but hot air past his ears when we talk to him about penal substituion. He can't understand it, it won't bear fruit, because he doesn't have the help of the Holy Spirit to understand it, and believe it.
What proof I give is the entire new testament, which was written to believers, not non-believers. I think theologians forget this simple fact sometimes, and it is the cause of a guilt driven gospel. The gospel is foolishness to those who perish. How much more foolishness will penal substitution be to them?
This is what I believe about the gospel. Jesus is clear, it isn't up to us to judge another man's salvation based on anything. If a man says he believes, the best we can do is call him brother. It is not upon us to question another's salvation for the very same reason that no one but God can read our hearts, and judge the conversion which took place.
I think we put way, way too much emphasis on theology, and not nearly enough emphasis on living the truth. Two commandments, that's all we have. Can we just live those? And what results would that bring? Would more come to know Christ if we dropped the theology, and led peaceful, quiet, loving lives?
I believe a man needs no theology except Christ crucified, dead, and risen, to draw multitudes to the only God who can save us. Love for Christ will draw them, not head knowledge. If one loves Christ, then the outpouring will be love of his neighbor. That is how the kingdom of heaven grows from the smallest seed to the largest plant in the field. All this other theology is just fluff, worthless garbage without love.
There are many who will always want to discuss and argue theology. But we weren't called to argue theology. We were called to tend and be the sheep, and to give love wherever love is needed. Let the arrogant asses who would sacrifice you on the altar of right for a dime have their "discussions". Those discussions bear absolutely no fruit, whatsoever.
We are instructed to not get caught up in endless discussion about words. Loving our neighbor is the greatest thing we will ever do, besides loving God. We aren't even present to love our neighbor when we argue about theology. How could we be. Our focus isn't on them, it's on us, and how we can prove we are right. A man who loves Christ denies that ego, and sacrifices himself on the altar of right, just as Jesus did.
Discussions about theology cause us to focus on ourselves. In a world where most of our thoughts are already on ourselves, why would we focus on something that causes us to love our neighbor less? We can't argue theology, and love our neighbor at the same time. We can be kind, we can be courteous and respectful, but in the end, these discussions are always about who is right, and who is wrong. It wouldn't be a defense if it wasn't. So, no matter how many times we say we respect those we discuss these things with, I think the real the truth is, we desire to be right. And that dictates that our focus is on our ego.
The kingdom is not about being right, or being able to judge another's salvation. It is about dying in the process of sharing the good news wherever we are, first by deed, and last, if necessary, by words. The true gospel ALWAYS kills those who preach it. That's because the true gospel isn't about who is right. It's about dying to ourselves so that others might know God, and live. Theological debates have no part in dying to ourselves. They are merely endless debates about words, and verses, and doctrine.
Defend your doctrine if you must, but the fact that there are so many different doctrines out there only proves that theology is about man, not about God. A long time ago, worthless men gave up on the sole truth of the gospel, and traded it for power instead. Today's hodgepodge of doctrine is what we are left with because of that. Had they stood firm with the truth, and rather died than lust for the power of "church" leadership and recognition, we wouldn't have the mess we have today. I say, walk away from the debates.
I think the greatest test of a man isn't how true his doctrine is. I think the test of a man is how great his love is. Theology and love have nothing to do with each other. So how should we spend our time?