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8 Bad Arguments Against Theology (with Answers)

3 Laws of Theological Motion

Theology is “the study of God.” You can probably see why Christians, new and old, would be interested in this topic. It goes by different names like doctrine, statement of faith, belief, and even trinitarianism. But most religious thought can be brought under this umbrella term: theology. Some people shy away from it citing a number of reasons:

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3 Laws of Theological Motion

Let’s take a closer look at why some people don’t like theology.

Christianity Is a Blind Lead of Faith.

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It’s true that some Christians believe that the less reason they have for their beliefs, the better. However, the Bible says that we should love God with our minds. We’re created in God’s image and as such, have reasoning abilities that should be used to honor him just as we honor him with our strength and hearts.

You Don’t Need Theology. You Just Need Jesus.

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It’s true; Jesus is at the very heart of Christianity. But those who advocate against theology are missing the point. Jesus is God. If we’re to follow Jesus, we must know something about him. What did he teach? What sort of man was he? The questions go on and on. When we answer these questions, we’re doing theology. We’re being theologians. Perhaps you thought of it in that way, but that’s all the word means.

What’s More Important: Studying Theology or Living the Christian Life?

This is meant to be a rhetorical question. When someone asks a rhetorical question, they don’t really want an answer. They ask it because the answer is implied. So which is more important? They’re both important. Think about building a house. What’s more important: the foundation or the structure itself? It should be obvious. They’re both indispensable. A faith which is not based on truth is crippled and deformed, and a sound understanding of doctrine that doesn’t change your life is useless. You need both.

Knowledge Makes People Proud, and Christians Should Be Humble.

This is a bit trickier. It’s true that people can become “puffed up” with knowledge. It’s also true that Christians are supposed to be humble. However, pride and humility are not logical opposites. Technically, the negation of pride is not-pride. It isn’t humility. But let’s not get hung up on technicalities. The book of Proverbs (which is in the Bible) tell us that we should seek out wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. So there must be a way to pursue knowledge without becoming proud. That’s what I’m advocating for here.

Jesus Never Went to Seminary. Why Should I?

It’s true. Jesus didn’t go to seminary. Of course, they didn’t have seminaries back then, but let’s set that aside for a moment. Would Jesus have gone to a seminary if they had been around in his day? I think he would. First, Jesus had a keen understanding of Scripture. We can see this from the way he understood fulfilled prophecy and because he was able to correct the understanding of the religious leaders of his day. Second, Jesus is often called the “logos” (especially in the Gospel of John. Logos means “word,” “reason,” or “plan.”[1]. Surely someone who can be described as “reason” would be in favor of studying at a seminary. Thirdly, Jesus’ disciple Paul commended the congregation at one of his churches for being diligent to study the Scripture[2] (just the sort of thing they do at seminary). Would Paul have commended the Bereans for doing something Jesus would have prohibited?

Seminaries (Where Theology Is Studied) Are Devoid of Spiritual Life.

The implication is obvious. If you go to seminary (or study theology), you’ll die spiritually. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a study that shows any correlation between spiritual life/death and attendance at a seminary. Are there people at seminary who are spiritually dead. Sure! But isn’t seminary a good place for those folks to be? After all, they get exposed to the gospel on a daily basis while they’re there.

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Sometimes this argument takes the form of a joke. You’ve probably heard it. A preacher (in an attempt to curry favor with his audience) “mistakenly” says cemetery and quickly corrects himself to seminary. This mistakenly devalues something that God has said is extremely valuable: wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Hopefully, the audience takes this sort of joke with a pinch of salt.

Ecclesiastes Says That Sorrow Comes with Much Knowledge and Wisdom.

That’s correct. You can look it up in Ecclesiastes 1:18. This may seem like a tough nut to crack, but let’s see what we can do. Dr. Tremper Longman (author of The Book of Ecclesiastes) in his lecture “Life is Difficult and Then You Die” points out that the negative aspects of Ecclesiastes are all true in a world without God. But in a world with God, its a very different story. Not only can this be drawn from a study of the text itself, but it has the added advantage of being perfectly in step with the entire book of Proverbs and Paul’s admonition to the Bereans. In short, the book of Ecclesiastes does paint a bleak picture of wisdom, but it doesn’t mean what you think it means (vis-à-vis The Princess Bride).

Theology Doesn’t Leave Room for the Holy Spirit to Move in Your Life.

Have you heard this one before? It takes on different forms. I’ve often heard it go something like this, “Well, I studied all weekend to prepare for my sermon. But on the way here my [wife, child, news story on the radio, billboard, etc.] really stuck me, and I felt like God wanted me to change my message.” This has a pious ring to it. However, can’t God tell someone what he wants them to say while you’re studying? Why do we attach some special qualities to the spur of the moment type of inspiration? Some will cite Luke 12:11–12 to back up this concept. Do we really think that sermon prep is similar to early Christians being brought before rulers to defend themselves? I don’t think so.

Christians are warned against quenching the spirit, and of course sinning willfully will tend to harden our conscience making it more difficult to discern between right and wrong. Does theology fall into either of these categories? It seems absurd to even entertain the idea that studying God and what God has told us in his word would make it harder for the Holy Spirit to affect change in us. This good sounding motto, I think, can be safely ignored.

Where Does This Leave Us?

On the face of it, it makes sense that Christians would want to study God. The arguments against theology (the study of God) that we’ve looked at don’t really cut the mustard. In addition, we’ve seen some positive reasons for why we should study doctrine. Once we reach our final state after this life, we’ll understand God much better than we do now. How could it be bad to want to/try to understand him now?

Have you heard any arguments like the ones above?


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How Can We Use Science and Philosophy to Argue That God Exists? (Video)

How Can We Argue that God Exists from Science is Religion and Science Are Opposed to Each Other?

Christians Can’t Argue That God Exists. Can They?

It’s commonly assumed that to believe in Christianity is to give up science and philosophy. Some Christians go beyond a mere personal belief and seek to convince others of the truth claims of their worldview. They want to argue that God exists. Can this be done? Wouldn’t one have to give up science and philosophy to argue for God?

How Can We Argue that God Exists from Science is Religion and Science Are Opposed to Each Other?

Dr. Doug Groothuis says no. In fact, he maintains that both science and philosophy can be used by the believer to argue for the existence of God. It must be admitted that some Christians debate about the validity of this approach. Some say that belief is purely a matter of faith and that to offer evidence or argument is to go contra-faith. Unbelievers say that Christianity destroys science and philosophy, and so using them to try and prove Christianity is impossible.

Watch this quick video or read the transcript below to get Dr. Groothuis perspective on this question. You can also grab his free video by clicking the graphic at the bottom of this blog post to hear him discuss the use of logic in apologetics.

Video Transcript

We can argue that in a variety of ways. You can argue from big bang cosmology that the universe began to exist a finite time ago and that’s best understood as “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” We’ve found that the universe is very carefully fine-tuned for life. The best explanation for that is that it was fine-tuned by a tuner. There’s a mind behind the universe.
At the microscopic level we’ve discovered the existence of molecular machine and the informational natural of DNA and so on. And those entities and processes are best understood, not as the result of unguided causes, but as the result of a designing mind.
So those are several areas that we can appeal to. That doesn’t, certainly, tell us everything we need to know about God. But it does dethrone atheism and pantheism as well. And it sets the table for further investigating Christian truth claims.
Free 28-min Vide on Apologetics

 

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6 Ways NOT to Lose Your Christianity in the University Classroom (Video)

6 Ways NOT to Lose Your Christianity in the University Classroom

When you (or a son or daughter) go to college, will you lose your Christianity? The percentage of young people who abandon their faith while at college is debated. The numbers can be high depending on what research you look at. Ed Stetzer has written about this topic for Christianity Today. His work belies some of the hyperbole in this discussion[1]. I thank him for that.

While the numbers may not be as high as some have reported, Christians do face challenges to their faith at university. Parents don’t want their children to lose their Christianity, but they may not know what to do to prevent it.

6 Ways NOT to Lose Your Christianity in the University Classroom
Copyright: Frannyanne

Christians trying to remain faithful while at school may feel like they’re fighting uphill. In some respects this is just reflective of our culture, but I think there’s more to it. These battles are taking place during a liminal stage for the student. Merriam-Webster defines the word liminal this way: of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition[2]. From a psychological perspective, a liminal stage is one full of uncertainty and ambiguity. What better way to describe college? Can you imagine a more difficult time to try to answer life’s hardest questions?

Prepare to Lose Your Christianity

We’re concerned with how to prepare young people to handle objections to their faith. In 2009 Jim Warner Wallace (a former cold case detective) was interviewed by Lee Michaels and Jeff Shell. He said that we should present evidence to young people in much the same way you would to a jury[3]. These are young people who don’t accept the authority or credibility of the Bible. We’ve boiled down six specific steps students can take to prepare for college.

1. Study Worldviews

Life is lived in terms of “worldviews.” Ideas aren’t orphans and don’t exist in isolation. Worldview evaluation helps bring to light any internal inconsistencies one might have. First, believers should understand the Christian worldview. If they don’t understand what they believe, how can they truly have faith? Second, they should study the various non-christian worldviews. This may seem overwhelming, but it can be done. Worldviews can be grouped into categories and dealt with in bulk.

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2. Get Perspective

College lasts for a short time. It’s busy and often confusing. It may feel like you have to come to definite conclusions, but you don’t. Christianity has a historical pedigree that cannot be destroyed by a few college credits. College is not a panacea of truth. Once it’s over, life’s toughest questions will remain. You’ll have to answer them over and over again, even if only in your own thoughts.

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3. Pursue Truth

There is no dichotomy between education and Christianity. Christianity is the only worldview that can sustain a positive outlook on knowledge. Don’t fear truth. Truth will always lead to a deeper and more accurate faith. Believers may feel a tension between following the truth and what their faith tells them. However, the Christian worldview is lead by one who identified himself as “truth” itself. It is impossible that truth (properly understood) will lead away from God. So, pursue truth with courage in your heart and Christ in your sights.

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4. Take a Stand

When I taught computer networking, I enjoyed when students asked questions or challenged me. It showed me that they were thinking. I don’t doubt some professors are authoritarian. Some may brook no dissension. That’s when courage is needed. Taking a stand for what you believe is one of the quickest ways to mature.

Rows of Chairs in a Laboratory Classroom
Harris and Ewing Collection in the Library of Congress

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5. Join a Church

Being a “lone wolf” may work in your favorite action movie, but as a strategy for life, it’s a bad bet. Christianity should be practiced in community. The members of the body of Christ help to balance each other out. Even students at a religious university can benefit from local church membership. Churches in a college town know to expect a flood of new and returning students each year. They may even have classes and programs designed around students’ busy schedules.

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6. Be Humble

Humility is necessary in the pursuit of truth. This isn’t in contradiction to the fourth point above (Take a Stand). It’s the flip side of the coin. Humility and courage go hand in hand. Your beliefs and convictions may be challenged. Fellow students, professors, even the curriculum itself may make you uncomfortable. You won’t always be right. Pick your battles. Be willing to admit if you’re wrong. Refusing to give up faulty ground only makes you king of an imaginary hill.

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A Professor’s Perspective

Dr. Groothuis has worked for years in campus ministry. Now he’s the professor at Denver Seminary. I asked Dr. Douglas Groothuis, “How should we prepare young people for challenges to their faith in college?” This is what he said.

Video Transcript

Apologetics and Christian worldview and knowledge of the Bible should be taught in the home; and it should be taught rigorously in the church; and students going to college should be involved in classroom activity/classroom instruction to prepare them for the kind of onslaught that they’ll have to deal with, prepare them for the atheism, prepare them for the relativism, and so on.

This is very exigent because the statistics I’ve seen are pretty frightening and disheartening. So many Christians go to college and either deny their faith or put their faith on hold, and they don’t act like consistent Christians. Maybe ten years later when they have children they’ll go back to the church and get more serious. But the university and college shapes an individual decisively for life.

So Christians need to know what they believe and why as they go into these settings. So the church should have courses, study opportunities to prepare for college, parents should know what sorts of things their children should read and what kinds of seminars they should go to. And this needs to be very intentional, very serious because, otherwise, the students will very likely drift away from Christianity or become fideists and say, “I believe Christianity but it is not supported by anything I study and there’s really no evidence for it but somehow I believe it.” We don’t want that.

free-28min-video-of-apologetics


  1. Stetzer, Ed. “Dropouts and Disciples: How Many Students Are Really Leaving the Church?” Christianity Today. May 14, 2014. Accessed March 5, 2015. http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/may/dropouts-and-disciples-how-many-students-are-really-leaving.html.  ↩
  2. Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 2003.  ↩
  3. Wallace, Jim W. “How to Help Young People Learn to Defend the Faith.” Interview by Lee Michaels and Jeff Shell. The Cold-Case Christianity Radio Interview Podcast (audio blog), September 14, 2009. Accessed March 6, 2015. http://thepleaseconvincemeradioshowpodcast.libsyn.com/how-to-help-young-people-learn-to-defend-the-faith.  ↩