Theological Bobble Heads
Bobble heads are some of the funniest decorations I’ve ever seen. The heads are so big that they wobble with every move. They are especially funny when they are on the dashboard of someone’s vehicle. I haven’t seen one in quite a while, but it reminds me of a spiritual problem that I’ve seen in my own heart and in people around me.
I have noticed a tendency to be fat-headed when it comes to theology. When I go to someone’s house, the first thing I look for is their bookshelf. One reason is to see if we stand on the same theological ground and read the same authors. Another reason is simple: I want to see how well-read they are.
By All Means, Read
Reading good books and studying the Bible is not inherently sinful. In fact, Paul tells Timothy to study (or be diligent) to show himself approved (2 Timothy 2:15). However, he also tells Timothy to continue in what he learned from Paul, including his conduct, aim of life, faith, patience, love, steadfastness, and more (2 Timothy 3:10-11).
In the same chapter, Paul says that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for a host of reasons including “training in righteousness.. that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Don’t Just Learn
For the more academically oriented Christians, we read of studying and get excited. We envision ourselves with books strewn across the table as we dive deep into the meaning of a Greek term or theological concept. We hear the words “study”, and “teaching” loud and clear. We often feel that we are “equipped” simply by our learning.
This can be a dangerous way of thinking, if we are not careful. Very dangerous.
In some Christian circles, learning is where we stop. As our heads swell with doctrinal knowledge, our desires to love and listen to others seem to wane. We are quick to quote scripture, our favorite theologians, or our confessional statements while we are slow to practice the principles and commands found in those same documents.
Notice that I said “we”. I’m a fat head too, sometimes. Just ask my wife and close friends.
Commit To Obedience
I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about how challenging it is to discuss and discern tone—especially in writing. What I mean is this: there is a way to speak truth that is loving, and there is a way to speak truth that is unloving. It is hard to figure out, sometimes, when a person is trying to be loving or unloving.
This is where we must search our own hearts and discern our true motives. As quickly as we study, we must also be willing to apply that learning through loving. That is what Paul speaks of in Philippians 1:9 when he says “and it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment”.
The clear way forward is to commit to applying and obeying everything we read and study in scripture. We are not to be hearers of the word only but also doers. We can’t settle for just being bobble heads who have minds full of knowledge and hearts dulled by the pride and arrogance that comes with unapplied excessive learning.
Are you a Christian bobble head? What would your friends and family say? What is your social media saying?
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