There is a verse in Acts 22 that is very humbling, and to be honest a tad scary, for us nerdy theologically minded type of people. Paul says of the Jesus-rejecting, church-persecuting Jews:
“…being zealous for God as all of you are this day…”
It is possible to very passionately “defend God” and uphold really good theology but all the while completely miss the gospel. That is what happened to this Jewish crowd. It’s what happened to Paul. And it’s what has happened to me before. We are absolutely convinced of something, we passionately fight for it, we even use Scripture, but we are dead wrong.
That is scary. It’s especially scary in a postmodern world where many say that truth is relative. The fact that you can be passionately wrong—and in fact often are—seems like ammunition in the gun of the relativistic argument.
But this really shouldn’t be scary. After all it’s not necessarily my theology that saves me. I can have really good theology—like the demons—and still go to hell. As Russell Moore has wisely said:
“There are some, I fear, who will be able to diagram in Greek the last words they ever hear voiced: ‘Depart from me, you worker of iniquity.’ Such cognitive expertise is of little use in wrestling demons.” (Moore, Tempted and Tried, 182-83)
Moore, I believe, is right because such cognitive expertise can cause some to vigorously argue theology (even being right) but in the end be just as much a son of hell as Judas Iscariot. It certainly can even cause those that have been bought with the blood of Christ to argue and sling slander like heaps of excrement spewing from Satan’s mouth.
We do this because as Dr. Moore elsewhere states, “We’d rather be right than rescued”. And that is what matters.
Not theological accuracy.
Not passionate defense of “God’s truth”.
Not stamping out heretics.
Not being zealous for God.