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Theological Arrogance: The Path to Heresy

(Adapted and excerpted from Elliot Grudem’s Orlando Boot Camp message, “Why Arrogance Has No Place in Reformed Theology.”)

When your study of theology grows your head and hardens your heart, you find yourself on a path of theological arrogance that won’t lead to greater theological precision – it will lead to heresy.

Reformed soteriology, rightly understood and applied in your life, should promote humility, not arrogance.

But if you look at church history, you know that even some of our greatest churchmen have wandered off into some pretty weird beliefs. And just their example should honestly sober you up.

Bible-Loving Theologians Defending Slavery and Segregation?

It isn’t just the liberal Germans. It’s men like Thornwell and Dabney who got the issue of slavery and segregation dead wrong.

And Warfield said this was because they allowed their distaste for men of other races to take precedence over what was the fundamental law of the church: in Christ, there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, slave or freeman.

And it’s not just Dabney and Thornwell and their generation. It’s even men like Morton Smith, who was one of the founders of RTS and one of the founders of the PCA. He got the issue of segregation dead wrong in the sixties and seventies when he argued that churches in the South should do what they could to maintain the racial status quo and do what they could to fight integration. 

Here’s What Should Sober You Up: These Were Men Who Knew Their Theology.

They knew their Bible. They claimed to love Jesus, and I believe they did. But they allowed that arrogant thought that permitted them to think themselves, because of their race, superior to another. They allowed that to take precedence in living their lives; they ignored the pursuit of holiness and instead replaced it with arrogance – and so they wound up walking down a path that allowed them to fight for and argue for things that are contrary to the Scriptures.

The fact of the matter is that we’re talking about our fathers here, right? There are many of our fathers who got the racial issue wrong.

A Real Grasp on the Doctrines of Grace Brings Love for Christ and Humility.

What’s the issue that we’ll face in the future? The issue you’ll face? I don’t have any idea. But I do know this: a real grasp of these doctrines of grace should produce a love for Christ in you that shows itself in humility and a pursuit of holiness – and without those things, whatever issues you face, you’re not going to get them right.

Reformed soteriology, when rightly understood and applied, should produce humility in your life. But not just humility, it should also give you the confidence you need to do the hard work of ministry.

Listen to Elliot’s full talk on the humility and confidence that mark a true Reformed theologian.  

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