The Church does not depend on its theology for its existence. The Church depends on the faithfulness of its parishioners, their devotion to God. I can say this confidently because most church-goers do not know what their church believes. Newcomers, who were not raised on its teachings, are less likely to be drawn to its doctrine than to friendships within its doors or the atmosphere it maintains for worship.
Young’s Literal Translation of 2 Peter 1:7 calls this “piety” [translated “godliness” elsewhere] and what the dictionary calls, “a belief … that is accepted with unthinking conventional reverence.”
But this is as it should be because as much as any church endorses discipleship, our knowledge of the Bible remains incomplete—a confession which should be an encouragement. A close friend who has been pastoring now for decades admitted with a soupçon of irony that if Jesus will grade his understanding of all Biblical truth at 10% when God calls on him, he will be humbly grateful for having had the opportunity to learn that much (1 Corinthians 13:12). He speaks for me, too.
Theology doesn’t save; God does! It is not what you might know but Who you know, Jesus, Who saves. We are not called “believers” for no reason. We trust Him, Whom we love, to save us! It is our faith in our Lord’s work on Calvary that is our salvation (Romans 10:9; Galatians 3:8), not our knowledge of the theological details. In Biblical days the cult of Gnosticism [after the Greek word, “knowledge” which based salvation on a supposed understanding of God’s revelation that to outsiders remained a mystery] was unequivocally rejected by the Apostles (Galatians 1:6-10).
That devotion, I speak of, is now being threatened in “subtile” ways [Genesis 3:1. The Hebrew word means “crafty”] through TV movies and series, talk shows and other media. All these are methodically introducing a narrative that compromises the Biblical message. I was interested to find out that the issues being discussed today where prevalent in their infancy in movies and TV series a decade ago. We have been the proverbial frog in the sauce pan of hot water and we haven’t hopped out yet! Church leaders have for the last half century been reevaluating church theology in the light of all this change.
This is a mistake, if the narrative being sold by the media is bought by the church to live below or outside the Biblical message! And that much we do know! It is Eve and the snake all over again! The Devil’s deception always begins with “Did God actually say.” The devil’s rhetoric is understood to mean, “God didn’t mean what you think He meant.” And yet nothing could be said in simpler terms: “this tree here, avoid it!” (Genesis 3:3)! The account begins with the devil spouting, “APH!” It is a rhetorical “yea,” ”really!” or “indeed!” It is an impassioned challenge to what we know all along about what God did say!
There is a lot of Bible to learn and some of us have had more time than others to learn it. But without our faith or an absolute devotion to our Lord, our faithfulness lived without compromise and without apology, the church ceases to be a spiritual force. It is our faith that has empowered our witness and message! We are “… God’s people … set apart by faith…” (Acts 26:18).