Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I don't think heresy is really our biggest problem

In reading Neil Cole's book, Organic Leadership, he has an interesting insight on pages 212-213. The section is on "holistic leadership development and theological education," and the title is 'Knowledge is Not Power.' His point is that too much of our leadership training is just about giving people knowledge; or making sure they know their theology. This is what he says:
Theology is a noble endeavor to pursue, but it is not enough to make you a good leader. When Paul lists the qualities to look for in a leader, sound doctrinal positions are not listed. They are all about character.

Why have we made such an issue of people's doctrinal stance on both the minors and the majors, when the Bible does not? Sure, the Bible clearly rejects false teachers, but these are not people who have subtle differences while believing basically the same thing on major issues. The way we have been trained to think is that heresy will run rampant if we do not make sure our leaders are all in a line on their documents.

Often I ask a group if they personally know anyone who has started a cult. On a rare occasion one person may raise his or her hand. Then I ask if they know of any leaders who have fallen into immorality, and almost every hand in the room goes up. I comment, "I don't think heresy is really our biggest problem."

He makes a good point; as he sums up, "Character is the issue we should be most concerned with, not theological positions on minor issues."

Yep... 'Love Jesus and do what you want,' is my motto ('Cause if you love Jesus, you'll want to do what he wants).

Peace out; and in.


JAH said...

Sounds like good info for posting on another blog as well...just thinking out loud. :)

Jim said...

I respect his point and absolutely agree that character (Paul calls it "love" in 1 Cor. 13) is critical, but I'm not sure I buy his point entirely. Paul talks frequently about important doctrines and doctrinal integrity and John says we need to defend what we believe about Christ - "2 John 1:8-10 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him."

So, maybe heresy isn't our biggest problem, but it is a problem, and we're certainly far from orthodox teaching. If we really believed the truth, then we wouldn't have the mess we see in American Christianity today, but we deny it and there's a mess. Maybe it's not heresy, maybe it is. I don't know.

I think theology done right, though, teaches us about Jesus and teaches us to be loving, which develops character, which is pretty much what you said at the end of your post.

Anyway...just some ramblings from a guy who loves Jesus more as a result of studying theology.

dan horwedel said...

Good points, Jim. I think any time someone says theology doesn't matter, they say it with a certain 'assumed' orthodoxy (at least what they think of as orthodox). I am assuming that might be what Cole means by emphasizing "minors" instead of "majors."

But you know me... always trying to find the positive in things. ;)

Jim said...

I think you're right. The more I thought about this yesterday the more I felt like I was missing his point. I guess I'm suggesting that it is important to study theology, but for the purpose of getting to know God more, not just to be right.