Give me understanding that I may live (Ps 119:144)
The old Baptist theologian, J.L. Dagg, begins his Manual of Theology by setting out the purpose of theological synthesis and study:
The study of religious truth ought to be undertaken and prosecuted from a sense of duty, and with a view to the improvement of the heart. When learned, it ought not to be laid on the shelf, as an object of speculation; but it should be deposited deep in the heart, where its sanctifying power ought to be felt. To study theology, for the purpose of gratifying curiosity, or preparing for a profession, is an abuse and profanation of what ought to be regarded as most holy.Today, Lee Irons has helpfully identified the deceitful and antithetical tendency in many Christians and ministers, who pursue theological perfection, as opposed to maturity in Christ. Irons has noted that pursuit of theological perfection:
- Gives us the feeling that we are addressing spiritual realities, when we are really just analyzing them.
- Causes us to think that our life is dependent upon intellectual synthesis rather than walking in His grace.
- Promotes spiritual pride, rather than the awe of a worm before His glorious God (cf. Rom 11:33-36)
- Causes disunity and division, rather than unity centered upon the Gospel.
The Problems of Theological Perfectionism