5 Sources of Bad Theology

My readers know I do my best to bring the body of Christ together rather than to divide it, but there are still sources within the body of which we need to beware and be aware. Like where we develop our theology, doctrine, and overall belief system. Might I just suggest “5 Sources of Bad Theology”:

5. Television – I don’t mean TV preachers (although that is certainly a potential source, but, on the whole, they’re not bad), I mean television that is loosely about Christianity. And I love it. I watch the History and History International channels almost religously, but I rarely make it through a program without hearing a narrator say something like, “…as Christians believe.” No wonder people think we’re nuts.

4. Bumper Stickers – Stuff like “My boss is a Jewish Carpenter” always makes me chuckle. Really? Mine isn’t. My Lord and Savior might have been a carpenter or mason, but I don’t think we know that for sure. His earthly step-dad was, but I think it is pretty clear from scripture that Jesus was a rabbi. Now He’s our High Priest and a whole host of other really cool labels, but not “Carpenter.” How about this one, “The Best Vitamin for Christians is B1”? Shouldn’t that be the prescription for “non-Christians”?

3. T-shirts – see above.

2. Blogs – Gotcha! I don’t mean our blogs of course, I mean bloggers who set up straw-man Christian positions to argue against. A loving God wouldn’t do this, this contradicts that, yada, yada, yada. You know what I mean. And shame on us Christians for taking the bait. Arguing to disprove a lie is not the same as arguing from truth.

1. Christian Music – Now, admittedly, I listen. Our church’s worship service is contemporary, and I thoroughly enjoy it and approve of it. But, I don’t think I would trust my child’s Christian education to many contemporary Christian lyricists. I won’t offend by direct quotation, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

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  1. #1 by mondaymorningreview on November 9, 2009 - 4:55 pm

    #6 – Funerals — I’ve heard preachers stay some really crazy things in an attempt to comfort people at funerals.

    • #2 by Peter on November 9, 2009 - 5:00 pm

      Oh, yeah, funerals!!!

  2. #3 by Scripture Zealot on November 9, 2009 - 4:57 pm

    Very good and nice idea for a post. I wish people who aren’t Christians knew this.

    • #4 by Peter on November 9, 2009 - 5:00 pm

      Thanks, me too.

  3. #5 by sethmehorn on November 9, 2009 - 5:13 pm

    Nice list. Here is a favorite bumper sticker I’d like to see banished: “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” The problem of course is that this is simply a blind appeal to authority as if interpretation was not involved! If God said it, yes I want to believe it. But what did God say?

    Also, although you have exercised caution in criticizing TV preachers, I’d add many of them (here’s where I will be cautious and not name names!) to the list. The responsibility of rightly dividing the word of truth is an awesome privilege. One that, quite frankly, many TV evangelists I’ve seen take all to lightly.

    • #6 by Peter on November 9, 2009 - 5:33 pm

      Seth, agreed. If we all knew what He said, it would be easy. I don’t think, however, that TV preachers as a whole are any more “wrong” than any other group of preachers would be. I agree with you, it is an awesome responsibility and privilege. I would tend to try to discern motive, though, over preciseness. I think the Holy Spirit will always teach a teachable heart, but where the love of money is the motive…I wouldn’t trade place with those guys…

  4. #7 by wilma on November 9, 2009 - 5:32 pm

    We Christians make the worst witnesses by some of the things we say and do. I had a friend on FB who is a minister call another friend on FB a Marxist. I pray that my life will be like a T-shirt or bumper sticker without words.

    • #8 by Peter on November 9, 2009 - 5:34 pm

      Wilma, well said. Your gift for succinctness always amazes me.

  5. #9 by sethmehorn on November 9, 2009 - 6:02 pm

    That is a good word about discerning motives, Peter. I’m confident God has used many poorly executed Bible lessons to do great things. Certainly ones I’ve heard and/or taught myself! This, of course, is not an excuse for us to continue the trend!

    • #10 by Peter on November 10, 2009 - 10:11 am


  6. #11 by Bitsy Griffin on November 9, 2009 - 6:58 pm

    but songs are so easy to remember! They have to be right . . .

    • #12 by Peter on November 10, 2009 - 10:11 am

      LOL! I’m sure the songs you listen to are perfectly correct theologically.

  7. #13 by T.C. R on November 9, 2009 - 8:14 pm

    I’ll throw those church marquees in. :-D

    But my blog is pure theogy. Ha!

    • #14 by Peter on November 10, 2009 - 10:12 am

      Ooooh, church marquees, good one. I wished I’d thought of it.

  8. #15 by Mulled Vine on November 10, 2009 - 7:33 am

    I’m not sure I would call these “sources” of bad theology – they are simply visible indicators of the general bad theology that already abounds.

    • #16 by Peter on November 10, 2009 - 10:13 am

      True, but we live in such a pop culture that anyone shallowly rooted will assume they are representative of scriptural truths.

  9. #17 by john on November 10, 2009 - 9:19 am

    What about Bibles? Well, I mean Bibles directed at a particular group or edited to ensure quality interpretation is guaranteed, GuarantEED!

    Perhaps, tagging along with Christian music, some devotionals we use could be thrown into the conversation. It seems to me for many people devotional type reading is the substance of biblical education. While devotion has its important place in faith development, and I wish more people would take time to practice, I can’t see how it can continually pass as the way the Church learns Scripture.

    Good post. Stay blessed…john

    • #18 by Peter on November 10, 2009 - 10:14 am

      I agree, John. I think a lot of us have all fallen prey to reading about the Bible rather than reading the Bible. Good word.

  10. #19 by brianfulthorp on November 10, 2009 - 11:50 am

    Great list Peter!

    I’ll Sunday school curriculums! (well, some of them at least).

    • #20 by Peter on November 10, 2009 - 12:23 pm

      Nice! Perhaps the list should be 10, or 20 long.


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