Personal Confessional: How Theology Can Become Idolatry and Impotent

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. ~I Corinthians 13:1-3

23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. ~Jeremiah 9:23-24

What good is all of the theological knowledge in the world if it does not have the capacity to break into the bars of my heart and transform it, recreate it from the inside out? I can know about God’s ontorelations and the Divine Monarxia, I can speak of perichoresis and consubstantiality, about union with Christ and double grace salvation, but if it is not shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit, if it just remains extra me (outside of me) then really what good does it serve? In my personal experience what it turns into, ironically, is idolatry! This is how helpless and inadequate I am in myself; even when I spend all of my hours studying about God, without the love of Christ shed abroad in my heart even knowledge of God, even Holy Grammar about God developed by the teacher’s of Christ’s church turns me to my navel instead of the broken and resurrected body of Jesus Christ.

We are all prone to wander, and yet we cannot really or successfully fortify ourselves; so we live boldly by God’s mercy in Christ (we must). When I try to read more theology, or the Bible to keep myself from sin, it really never works. But I don’t despair; I pray and repent, and Jesus forgives me seventy times seven. And then I seek to know Him even deeper in the mystery of God become flesh, in the mystery of the God become flesh to the point of death even the death of the cross. And I seek my sustenance from there, all along in conversation with Him in His throneroom behind the veil of His body in the Holy of Holies of my Triune God. He lets me know that when I fail He never does nor ever will and that He always lives to make intercession for me; and I rejoice and wonder at His majestic grace for me. And then I stop and realize that in these moments I am really doing theology or theology is doing me.

So what am I getting at in this kind of personal confessional? I am getting at the reality that academic theology (so called) tends towards idolatry, because my heart tends towards idolatry and cannot, on its own, handle the truth of what is being contemplated about God’s ineffable life. As with everything then I take what is holy and trample it underfoot using it more for self-promotion rather than in the service of the church catholic. I keep finding myself turning in even though God in Jesus Christ (the very ground of my life by grace and adoption) has not only turned me out, but is ever afresh anew turning me out to Him and then to others. But I keep getting in the way of what He wants to do, even when my spirit is willing and go into the theology bookstores with the greatest of intentions I take what is meant for God and take it for myself (worship). Even writing this post can become a stumbling block which self-serves rather than in service of Christ and His body; it can be a means of self-promotion rather than Christ-promotion (or witness bearing). So I must simply offer up these little fishy words of mine and hope that the Shepherd of Israel can multiply them for His purposes, and through them allow my heart to be more oriented to and from His rather than to and for myself.

 

 

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