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04 Feb '13

theological arrogance and humility

Posted by T.J. Addington in spiritual arrogance, theological arrogance
The study of theology is an interesting discipline: it can breed either great humility or arrogance - even massive arrogance.

What makes the difference? It is whether we put ourselves under the authority of that which we study, or inversely above it because of our expertise in our ability to slice and dice fine points of theology and exegete Greek, Hebrew and theological systems.

The study of theology ought to force ourselves toward humility. No matter how much we know, there is so very much more that we don't fully understand and grasp. The study of God is a limitless study and the more we understand the more we realize we don't understand. 

Just try to grasp a God with no beginning, who exists three in one, who is all knowing, all holy, all powerful and all loving. God is infinite so how do infinite minds believe they can fully understand the infinite or be proud of what they know? As Solomon said, "of books and learning there is no end." Indeed! We will spend an eternity seeking to understand the infinitely and majestically holy God. Eternity has no end!

What I don't understand are brilliant theologians who also have great arrogance: They know all the answers, are always right, glory in their knowledge and allow no grey in theological discussions. Rather than being humbled by the immensity of our God and the glory of His character, their pride actually places themselves above the Word they study and the God they serve. 

Arrogance and God's word and character are incompatible. Unfortunately there are those who fit this description who actually teach those who will pastor churches, a sad commentary on seminary education in some quarters.

Whenever I develop pride about my Biblical knowledge, ability to exegete the Word, or perceived expertise about God, I am moving from living under the Word and its Author to living over the Word and its Author. 

Each of us chooses one stance or another. Pride is incompatible with Jesus and the Word. Those who study a majestic God with a heart that is open cannot help but to bow their hearts, lives and intellect before Him. If they don't do that now, they will one day when He returns when every knee will bow before Him.