‘I Don’t Need Theology, I Just Need Jesus’ Just Means You Have Bad Theology

Knowing God, as He is presented in scripture, is a non-negotiable for Christians.

Theology is critical for all, especially for Christians. A denial of the need for theology is often just an excuse for laziness and disbelief. It is this poor logic that plights the liberal and shallow branches of Christianity. Embracing such deceptions, they will convince themselves that aimless acceptance and/or misguided passion is an adequate replacement for Jesus’ propitiation of God’s wrath. As I have said elsewhere: we must know God rightly if we are to know Him at all.

 

There has been some debate as to who first uttered the phrase made famous by Keyser Söze in 1995’s cinematic classic The Usual Suspects. Approaching the end of the film, the mythical crime kingpin states, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” If you haven’t seen the film, this moment is a confession of sorts. Until now, the audience is not sure of Söze’s identity. The viewer spends the film seeing others cower under his influence without seeing him. So much so, his reputation grows into something beyond that of a normal man; many doubting his existence.

Unlike the film, I won’t go as far as to say it’s the “greatest” trick the devil ever pulled, though that worked well for cinematic effect. However, I will agree that one of the most effective methods for disarming an enemy is to convince them the opposition is imaginary. This is especially true when it comes to the spiritual and religious; there is a fine line between denial and manipulation.

If you’ve spent any time reading this blog, you already know we are passionate about theology. We believe it critically important, completely captivating, and objectively unavoidable. No one can avoid making theological statements and producing theological positions. Even the smallest utterance about God, religion, nature, or humanity speaks volumes about one’s worldview and relationship with Jesus. The theological claims of Christianity and Jesus are far too cosmic and all-encompassing to be a non-issue. Indeed, everyone is a theologian, as the title of the late DR. R.C. Sproul’s books suggests.

A pursuit of theology is fundamental and vital to our make up as human beings. Because we bear the Imago Dei (we are made in the image of God), we’re designed with natural propensities for the spiritual and divine. We are wired to pursue theology – if not formally, then certainly informally. Even atheists, by their own self-admission, are going out of the way to classify themselves by an a-theological position. The great efforts made to publicly deny God are, in and of themselves, admissions of the great importance God plays in our world. It’s for reasons like these the statements that deny the need for theology are so absurd to me. Yet, it is not the militant atheist’s denial of theology that frustrates me the most – it is Christian’s. Their denial statements are often phrased something like this: “I don’t need theology; I just need Jesus.”

The irony of such elucidations is that they are, in and of themselves, theological statements. What they’re effectively saying is: “I don’t know much about Jesus, and I really don’t care enough to learn.” An absolute refusal to learn about someone is a polite way to say you don’t think much of them. The classic analogy here is the picture of marriage. No spouse would dare say “I love my wife, but I don’t know anything about her.” Those that we love, we get to know. We invest time and energy into such relationships; we work at it because we deeply care. Can we really say we love someone that we know nothing about?

Theology is critical for all, especially for Christians. A denial of the need for theology is often just an excuse for laziness and disbelief. It is this poor logic that plights the liberal and shallow branches of Christianity. Embracing such deceptions, they will convince themselves that aimless acceptance and/or misguided passion is an adequate replacement for Jesus’ propitiation of God’s wrath. As I have said elsewhere: we must know God rightly if we are to know Him at all.

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