Good Theology Versus Bad Theology

How do I know that my beliefs are the beliefs of Jesus and the apostles? How can I have certainty regarding what the Bible teaches when there is so much disagreement among Christian leaders who know the Bible better than I do? Why are there are so many Christian denominations? Logically, we cannot all be right on everything. I have created the following chart to help you discern the differences between good theology that comes from Scripture and bad theology which is derived from human tradition and produces denominationalism and division:

Good Theology

Bad Theology

Starting Point

Scripture Alone

A Theological System: (a confession, statement of faith, or human tradition)

Method of Approaching Scripture

Exegesis: discovering the meaning of the original text and changing our doctrine on the basis of Scripture.

Eisegesis: reading into Scripture a meaning that would have been foreign to the original author and so change Scripture to fit the doctrines of our theological system which is viciously circular reasoning.

Source of Doctrine

All doctrine must be derived explicitly from scriptural exegesis.  Theological synthesis is only valid if all propositions are scripturally derived and the conclusions follow logically. The Bible changes us and sits in judgment over us.

Scripture is investigated to find proof texts to support a pre-conceived system of doctrine. If no proof text can be found, doctrine is derived from improper deduction. We change the Bible and sit in judgment over it.

Approach to Changing One’s Beliefs

We must believe whatever God says as those who are called to imitate him (Eph 5:1). Christlikeness and the glory of God are the goal of our worship, doctrine, and life (Rom 8:29). Change may be costly, but God will recompense whatever sacrifices we make for his sake.

Changing one’s theological views is frowned upon and costly because of peer-pressure, financial loss, and self-deception to keep people in the confessional fold.

Approach to Handling Objections to Our Beliefs

The truth has no reason to be afraid of the best arguments against it. The truth shines brightest against the backdrop of false doctrine and an impartial reading of Scripture will always lead to the truth. The best arguments against our position must be answered in order for us to be intellectually honest.

The best objections to our doctrine are avoided and never mentioned out of fear that those who share our views will leave when confronted with these arguments. We avoid dealing with them seriously in fear that we ourselves may have to change our beliefs. The alternative positions to our beliefs are misrepresented and we only deal with the weakest arguments against our position.

Approach to Historical Theology

Since false doctrine does not come from Scripture, all false beliefs can be traced historically from a foreign influence injected into the life of the church or from a mishandling of Scripture. Quoting famous Christians from the past to support our beliefs is not a substitute for scriptural exegesis. That doctrine which is most true is most offensive to sinful man.

Our starting point for what we believe is the beliefs of our heroes in the faith. We cannot imagine that so many godly men and women could be wrong for so long. Tradition functionally takes authority over Scripture by determining what we want the Bible to teach. We exalt the great Christians of the past to a position that they themselves never would have desired.


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