What’s More Important, a Strong Theology or a Childlike Faith?
When We Focus on Theology We Miss the Point of Following Jesus
A lot of people today work hard to form a correct theology. Almost every church has a theology, be it formal or implicit. They use theology to determine who’s in and who’s out. Every seminary has its own theology as well. If you agree with their beliefs, you have a chance to graduate. But if you take issue with it, you open yourself up for criticism, condemnation, and even rejection.
Most people and religious institutions use theology as a weapon. They leverage their beliefs to divide Jesus’s followers. They claim there’s right theology and wrong theology. Unfortunately theology is in the eye of the beholder. And everyone has their own.
The word theology, of course, doesn’t appear in the Bible. Faith does. Faith shows up several hundred times, from Genesis to Revelation and most of the books in between.
A Childlike Faith
Though the disciples shoo them away, Jesus embraces little children and blesses them. He says his kingdom belongs to them (Matthew 19:13-15). Another time Jesus says that unless we become like children we can’t enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:2-4). This is where we get the idea of having a childlike faith, the faith of a little child.
Jesus doesn’t say, “You have to get your theology right for me to accept you into my kingdom.” Instead, he says, “Come to me like a little child.” To Jesus our theology doesn’t matter as much as our faith, the faith of a child.
Yet we persist in pursuing a right theology, a systematic theology. Yet if a systematic theology was important, you think it would be in the Bible. Paul would’ve been a good person to write it. Instead Paul talks about faith. He talks about faith a lot, mentioning it about one hundred times.
Our faith, not our theology, is important to Jesus. And our faith is also important to Paul, or he wouldn’t have written about it so much. We’ve majored in theology and minored in faith. Click To Tweet
Over the centuries, especially the last five, people argued much about theology. They fought over it and even killed for it. Each time they did, they divided the church of Jesus. Instead of being one, as Jesus prayed, we formed denominations—42,000 of them. We’ve majored in theology and minored in faith.
We got it wrong, and we need to fix it. We need to stop our preoccupation with theology and simply come to Jesus in faith, just like a child. Then we will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.