Monday, July 12, 2010

Theology: Where doctorates and the unschooled are equal?

If my car is acting up and I don't know what's wrong, I first check with my dad or my brother; they both know a lot more than I do about the subject. But if neither of them can help me fix the problem, I call my mechanic -- after all, he's an expert.

But theology seems to be one of the few subjects that no one seems willing to defer to an expert on. (Politics is another.)

Why this is so is beyond me; having the proper theology might have eternal consequences, depending on who is correct, so you'd think people would see this as a major decision. Nope. They're quite happy to just do whatever feels right to them.

But they treat their cars far more seriously even though the worst thing that is likely to happen if you guess wrong is that it will break down eventually. (Of course, if it's your breaks that are going bad, it still would be good that you've decided upon the correct theology.)

This problem stems from the fact that in a free society we may have any opinion on any subject without penalty of the state. That's a great freedom to have, but freedom of thought without consultation of experts is as dangerous as is the freedom to rebuild your own car engine without any training.

Yes, theologians and atheist and agnostic philosophers have deep divisions among themselves as to what the "truth" is, but that shouldn't stop those of us untrained in theology from seeking their advice before deciding upon an opinion of the afterlife.

Even if I want to try to fix my own toilet, I ask somebody or check the Internet first. Yet millions of thinking humans are content to concoct their own theology and assume they're right.

It's a common cry that members of organized religion blindly follow whatever they are fed. This can, indeed, be a danger, but just making up something in one's own head is no less intelligent. At least those who recite the Apostle's Creed are following a belief system that has been tested and tried by millions over several centuries. Why is that more stupid than just following one's own path?

I'm not arguing to pick a theologian or philosopher to just blindly follow; I'm just saying that no one who knows nothing about automobile engines would give his own opinion of what's making that funny noise under the hood the same weight as he would the opinion of a professional mechanic. Why do that with what might well be the eternal destiny of his soul?

For a view from someone more learned than I am (I did drop out of Bible College, after all) check out All Saints Writers Block.

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