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When Theology Fails…

May 29, 2015

For some of you that title might be something you consider to be heresy.  God is the author of all truth!  There is no way that failure in possible when you are following God’s Word!  But in recent days there have been some stories on the news that make me wonder.

Down in Texas there is a mega-church, The Village Church, that has been drawing some attention.  It seems that a member family, a couple who had been on the mission field, had a serious problem.  After many years of marriage the wife discovered her husband had reams child pornography and had molested some children.  In horrified shock, she left him and reported him to both the police and to their church.

The church, to their credit, also went to the police.  They also confronted the husband who, according to the church, began the process of “walking in repentance.”  They assured one and all that they are taking his sins seriously and working with both him and the police but that, with the conditions they have set up, he retains his membership in good standing.

The wife was another matter.  Because the church membership covenant prohibits divorce, or steps taken toward divorce, without going through their full counselling system to save the marriage she was publically placed under church disciple.  When she submitted a letter of resignation they told her that, as she was under discipline, it could not be accepted.

The net result?  The pedophile retains his status as a member in good standing, his wife gets disciplined.  Needless to say, this did not go down well with the general public, other Christians, and even many in their own church.  (Update:  As I write this I have seen reports that the church, while not changing their beliefs, has apologized to the wife for “handling this wrong.”)

This mess for The Village Church, came because their teachings on divorce, which is an issue in dispute even among evangelicals, and is a subject which is of secondary importance in the beliefs of The Church led them to take a bone-headed public stance.  In addition, their use of a membership covenant is a concept that is hard to justify biblically and can be easily used, as here, as a method of control not governance.

Here in North Carolina a case is coming to light where a desire to offer grace and forgiveness to a registered sex offender has led a Christian school to allow him to come on campus as a contractor, which is a violation of the law.  The facts are still unclear but, again, this is not a good idea, even if you think it is good theology.

And don’t get me started about the cover-up about Josh Duggar and his molestation of young girls when he was a teen.  Once again, maybe they thought they were theologically right but they ended up looking horrible.

The problem is that, whatever your theology, it is not the Word of God.  It is what you think the Word of God teaches.  Theology can, and does, fail because it is a construct, albeit a valuable construct, of flawed humans, not God.  Can that happen to me?  You?  You bet.  So here is a finish to the slogan in the title that may help when you theology blows up in your face.  When theology fails, try thinking.

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From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. I’m not sure if I can agree with your title. I guess it all depends on your definition of theology. According to my understanding — which may indeed be flawed — theology IS based on the Word of God. The clear teachings of Scripture become theology. Theology should never fail because it should be based on the clear teachings of the Lord, and verifiable by the Word.

    I.e.: Jesus said, Except a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Thus we believe in and teach the New Birth — it is part of our theology (along with One supreme God, the Holy Trinity, etc.) It will never fail; there will never be another door into the Kingdom of God. But if a group comes up with a “You have to have exactly this experience” or “Just say 1,2,3,4, I believe. Now you’ll be a child of God,” this is a flawed application.

    What you’re writing about here seems to be flawed human application of Biblical theology. The word teaches moral purity and giving none offense, etc. These groups aren’t saying kiddie porn is okay or that it’s okay to molest children–or anyone, for that matter. Their theology seems okay. But chastising the innocent wife because of a certain church rule isn’t the fault of theology, IMO. And allowing a convicted molester in a school yard is a very flawed application of the legitimate theology of extending forgiveness to repentant souls.

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