One of the things I ve come to discover over the last several years of serving the church is that theology is at the root of our actions. Bad theology can lead to bad actions. Good theology can lead to good ones. I m generalizing of course, because we all know that no matter how right our thinking may be, we still make mistakes. However, I m quite certain that if we examine something that went terribly wrong, we will usually if not always find erroneous theology at the root of it. There have been several times when I have had to totally scrap a certain way of thinking because it manifested itself in bad actions. Same as our church! We ve had some pretty whopping bad things happen, sending us to our microscopes to examine our inner life and thoughts to discern where the problem started.
Theologian Karl Barth had a similar experience. He experienced a black day in August 1914 when 93 of Germany s foremost intellectuals and theologians, including his formerly revered teachers, signed support for the Kaiser s war efforts. Barth says:
Amazed by their attitude, I realized that I could no longer follow their ethics and dogmatics, or their understanding of the Bible and history, and that the theology of the nineteenth century no longer had any future for me.
If only we had the wisdom to recognize empty theology when we see it! If only we had the courage to abandon it when we do!