I have raised several issues over the last year on this blog that would point to the fact that theologians actually got a lot wrong since the second century. This would raise the question found in the title line. Is that a reasonable question or, should the question really be…. Why would we think that theologians got it right? This is the point of this article.
Let’s look at it throughout the history of the biblical narrative. The history of the story is about six thousand years. For the first two thousand years people got it wrong. They chose idolatry. In fact, according to Jewish Tradition, Abraham was the son of a wicked priest and idol maker. Abraham’s call was evidence of the fact that for two thousand years of the biblical narrative men got it wrong.
The narrative continues with the family of Abraham culminating in the calling of Jacob/Israel. The two hundred seventy year period of the active writing of the Prophets demonstrates that over time, Israel did not get it right. This is followed by John the Baptist and the Lord himself. Jesus taught his followers many corrective ideas from, who the Messiah was, what he would do, what his purpose was etc. He then inspired Paul et. al., to continue to correct ideas. He redefined the phrase word of God from Torah to himself and the gospel. The history is replete with theologians getting it wrong. The scribes and Pharisees were some of the most learned, studious theologians that ever lived. Theology was their life from early childhood on.
Finally, we have prophecies that speak of the last days and the error that will ensue. Clearly, when the New Testament writers spoke of the last days and, the end of the age they were speaking and, writing of the times in which they lived. After all, they had been taught by the Pharisees that the end of the age and the age to come (Olam Ha Bah) was imminent.
Now when we fast forward to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, it seems rather arrogant to believe that we somehow have it all right. Yet, this is the attitude of most evangelical leaning denominations and, while there is room for disagreement on what is called the non-essentials there is absolutely no room for disagreement on what has become known as orthodoxy. There are many things that could be debated and need to be explored with open honesty. Here are a few:
- The definition of the word of God
- Atonement theory
- Purpose of scripture
- Meaning of the end of the age
- Nature of the fall
- Humanities root problem
- The purpose of the cross
- God’s reason for creation