What If Jesus Disagreed with Your Theology?

Erik Raymond

"I am not saying my theology is 100% right, I'm just saying I don't know where I am wrong!"  

I have heard this statement repeated many times. Each time the implication is: if we knew where we were wrong then we would change.  

Without doubting their sincerity I often wonder how open to theological correction we really are? I find it interesting and instructive that as the Lord Jesus walked and talked among people he was regularly challenging people's theological conclusions. This type of doctrinal and practical pushback was not well-received. In fact, you could say that Jesus was rejected and ultimately crucified because of inflexible theological conclusions.  

In the gospel of Mark, Mark 12:1, we read of this type of session. In fact it was a prolonged session of  Bible Q & A with Jesus.  At this point it should have been obvious to anyone with a pulse that you don't get into a Bible Trivia match with the Son of God. At any rate they persist. Question after question comes. And graciously, answer after answer follows. 

In one exchange we read of the Sadducees making up a scenario of a woman whose first husband dies and then she marries his brother. This story repeats itself until she has successfully married and buried all seven of the brothers. The question then comes down to whose wife she will be in the resurrection.  

The side-story of course is that the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection from the dead. Their questioning betrays any pretense for learning while they disclose their true motive to paint Jesus as a fool. 

The ever-articulate and everlasting champion at Bible trivia answers them with precision leaving little doubt as to the heart of the issue: 

Jesus said to them, "Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong." (Mark 12:24-27) 

The answer that Jesus gives shows that their theological blind-spot was due to insufficient knowledge, understanding, and application of biblical truth. Jesus puts his sovereign finger in their chest and says, "You are quite wrong" (v.27). 

We know how they and others took such unvarnished truth-telling; they foamed with anger plotted for his destruction (Mark 3:7). 

While we cannot prevent the fact that we are and will be wrong on occasion, we can work to prevent the wrong responses. Here are some basic guidelines for being open to theological examination. 

1.  Realize that you do not know everything. This is as easily agreed with as it is forgotten. Too many times we find ourselves postulating to defend our perceived omniscience rather than overcome our fallen understanding.

2.  Remember that God uses the Scriptures to confront and grow you. This is the point of 2 Timothy 3:16, the Scriptures must confront us in our sin and conform us into Christlikeness.

3.  Prioritize prayer and confession before reading and studying the Word. In James 1:20 we are reminded of this priority of examining our hearts for sin, repenting of it, and then receiving the Scriptures.

4.  Resist the urge to score points. On occasion I have found myself caught up in theological debate and caring very little about the conquest of the truth and instead I was about the conquest of Erik. Our burden must be for all men (ourselves included) to be complete in Christ (Colossians 1:29).

5.  Remember that God uses people for your growth. When you upload all of the passages in the NT that remind us of our need for one another (Hebrews 3:13) it becomes foolish to try to shut people down when they may be on an errand to serve you.

6.  Don't try to be too cute. I think this was what the Saduccees were about. Remember what and who we are talking about.

7.  Don't argue with Jesus. This goes without saying, but it happens.

8.  Remember to be thankful for what you do know. There is not one single ounce of biblical knowledge, understanding or true lasting joy that does not come from the hands of sovereign benevolent grace. Therefore, we are to be thankful and not prideful for anything that we truly know. 

May God grant hunger to learn and humility in learning.

Erik Raymond is pastor at emmaus bible church in Omaha, Nebraska. He and his wife, Christie, have six children. You can follow Erik on Twitter @erikraymond and read his blog at ordinarypastor.com . 

Originally published June 21, 2012.

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