Theological Laziness

We tend to take the easy road. The one that’s quicker, easier, and microwaved.  And that’s not all so bad with a lot of things.  Emails are much faster than letters.  Cell phones are much faster and more efficient than landlines.  Buying a book on Kindle is faster and cheaper than buying a physical copy and paying for shipping.

But when it comes to theology, don’t do it. Becoming a parrot is much easier than becoming a theologian.  But it’s not helpful for the Church.  And in the long run, it will leave you intellectually and theologically paralyzed.

At points in my life, I’ve felt pigeonholed into giving the right answer, quoting the right author, and listening to the right preachers.  Learn to think, talk, and write like the good guys.  Sure, I was encouraged to read the other writers/pastors, but just so I would know their side of the argument.

But we need to think for ourselves.  Read.  Study.  Listen.  And arrive at our own conclusions…not just haphazardly arrive at the same conclusions as the popular conservative, conference-speaking, book-writing pastors of our day.  Because we can read the Bible for ourselves.  And we can think for ourselves.  And we can develop theology ourselves.* We don’t have to consult other men and women when we are articulating our theology.  And when we consult them in place of thinking for ourselves, we miss out on a great benefit of study: discovery.

God still speaks

Call me crazy, but I still think that God speaks today, and He’s not just speaking to the popular pastors.  He’s speaking to me.  And you.  And all other believers.

Standing on the shoulders of giants is different than standing behind them yelling, “Yeah…what he said!”  Standing on the shoulders of giants means that we learn and grow from those who have gone before us.  Standing on their shoulders means we don’t simply lay hold of their conclusions…the ones it took them years to arrive at.  That borders on intellectual thievery.

Most people tend to take the easy way out.  When it comes to theology, don’t short-circuit the work on God in your heart.

Have you ever been lulled into taking the easy way out when it comes to understanding the things of God?

Disagree with me?  Leave a comment below and let’s discuss it!

*Hear me correctly: I’m not trying to divorce myself from our church fathers.  There’s a depth and richness to their writing that’s difficult to find today.  And there’s great wisdom in learning from those who have gone before us, and who are continuing to presently pave the way.  I’m just not linking myself so tightly with them that I can’t use the brain that God has given me to actually do what it was intended to do.  Think!

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Ben Reed
Ben Reed is the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN, area. He holds an Mdiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ben is also an avid coffee drinker and CrossFitter, but not at the same time. Catch up with Ben at BenReed.net. In his book, "Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint," he helps leaders through the process of putting a small group ministry together and creating a place where people belong so they can become.