When Theology is Dangerous

by Sean McDowell

I love studying theology. I teach a New Testament theology class at Talbot School of Theology, speak on theological issues at Summit Ministries, and teach a high school systematic theology class at a private school in Orange County. Along with philosophy, theology is one of my favorite topics to study. And I wholeheartedly believe that learning theology is vital for spiritual growth.

But theology can also be dangerous. My concern is not with theology per se. In fact, good theology is critical for avoiding dangerous doctrines and preventing error (Titus 1:9). I wish the church would invest more time and resources in teaching good theology. I am convinced many young people disengage the church because of bad theology.

My concerns here are with the way we teach—or often fail to teach—theology.

Concern #1: Associating Learning Theology Itself with Spiritual Growth. Proper theology can help us understand God’s character, so we can relate to Him better. But good theology alone does not mean we are becoming like Jesus. After all, even the demons have perfect theology (James 2:19). During his earthly ministry, people were confused about the identity of Jesus, but demons seemed to always get it right. They had correct theology but could not have been further away spiritually.

Here is a humbling reality to think about…
When Theology is Dangerous