Confronting Bad Theology in the Church

In the heart of every church lies its theology—the study and understanding of God. Good theology nurtures faith, guides practice, and fosters a healthy spiritual community. However, when theology goes astray, the consequences can be detrimental, leading to confusion, division, and spiritual harm. Confronting bad theology is crucial for the health and growth of the church. This blog explores why it matters, how to identify it, and ways to address it with grace and truth.

Why Confront Bad Theology?

  • Preserving the Integrity of the Gospel: The Gospel message is central to Christianity and Ignite Church. Any distortion can lead believers away from the truth of Christ's redemptive work. Our goal is to ensure sound doctrine that preserves the purity and power of the Gospel message. Not all bad theology is malicious theology; sometimes it has just been learned wrong.
  • Protecting the Faithful: Believers should rely on sound teaching to grow in their faith. Bad theology can lead one to spiritual disillusionment, moral compromise, and a weakened faith. Sometimes, protecting the flock from harmful teachings is an act of pastoral care. Although not always easy, it is necessary. But most of the time, it’s something you can do too. Especially in the moment of conversation or bible study.
  • Promoting Unity: Theological errors often cause divisions within the church. By addressing and correcting these errors, the church can maintain unity and harmony among its members. As stated before, there are many secondary issues we can disagree on but still remain in fellowship and unity. The goal when redirecting someone’s bad theology is unity.

Identifying Bad Theology

  • Scriptural Misinterpretation: Teachings that contradict clear biblical principles should be scrutinized. This includes taking verses out of context or twisting their meaning to fit an agenda. In every situation, an opportunity should be taken to review and dissect scripture together—not just in a verbal back-and-forth, but truly sitting down and going over the misinterpreted scripture, reading it in context, and researching the correct interpretation, together.
Here is an example: Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” How many times have you heard someone say while praying, "Where two or more are gathered"? In context, this verse is about judging, not praying or getting together. It takes 2 or more witnesses to judge someone. The Holy Spirit is always with us; why do I need two or more to pray?
  • Doctrinal Deviations: Be wary of teachings that deviate from core Christian doctrines, such as the nature of God, the person and work of Jesus Christ, salvation, trinity, and the authority of Scripture, or that seems a common teaching throughout church history. We have thirteen that we deem essential. CLICK HERE
  • Practical Implications: Assess the practical outworking of the theology. Does it promote godly living, love, and humility? Or does it lead to pride, legalism, or licentiousness? Does it line up with history? Has it been seen in church history, or is it relatively new? A lot of bad theology sounds good at the onset, but if deeper research were given, you might see it being used by other false teachers, false religions, or new age movements. 

Confronting Bad Theology

  • Prayerful Discernment: Before addressing theological issues, seek God's guidance through prayer. Ask for wisdom, humility, and the right approach to handle the situation. Always do it in love and a heart to teach, not to preach.
  • Study and Equip: Equip yourself with a thorough understanding of Scripture and sound theological resources. Engage with trusted theologians, pastors, and biblical commentaries to strengthen your understanding. Your opinion doesn’t matter, what does scripture say?
  • Engage in Dialogue: Approach those teaching or believing bad theology with a spirit of love and humility. Engage in respectful conversations, listening to their perspectives while gently presenting biblical truth.
  • Public Correction: If the error is widespread or coming from a prominent leader, it may be necessary to address it publicly. We will do this with grace, ensuring that the goal is restoration and not condemnation. Again, not all bad theology is false teaching; sometimes, it's just learned wrong.
  • Provide Sound Teaching: Counteract bad theology by providing solid, biblical teaching. If you are engaged in a conversation (not debate), provide sound information to back up the claim. If you don’t feel as if you can do it, come to me or the elders to help address this issue.
  • Seek Accountability: Work within the church's leadership structure to address theological issues. Accountability among leaders ensures that corrections are made responsibly and effectively. Bible study together is the best way to address differences and a great way to learn more as you seek God’s guidance.

Confronting bad theology is not about winning arguments or proving others wrong. It's about protecting the integrity of the Gospel, nurturing the faith of believers, and promoting unity within the church. With prayer, discernment, and a commitment to biblical truth, we can address theological errors with grace and love, guiding the church toward a deeper understanding of God and His word. In a church like ours, a melting pot of people, we will have some differences, but if we focus on the core doctrine and discuss and study the differences, we will see a church growing together. Let us be vigilant, compassionate, and courageous as we uphold the truth of the Gospel in our church, all the while remaining in fellowship and unity.

In Love,

Pastor Jody

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