Sometimes it’s easy to feel like studying theology is just for the sport of argument, a way for people with intellectual proclivities to get off. The truth is that billions of people are affected by Christian theology and just like bad medicine hurts people bad theology hurts people.
Stanley Hauerwas hits at the heart of the issue when he says:
“…when someone goes to seminary today, he can say, “I’m not into Christology this year. I’m just into relating. After all, relating is what the ministry is really about, isn’t it? Ministry is about helping people relate to one another, isn’t it? So I want to take some more Clinical Pastoral Education courses.” And the seminary says, “Go ahead and do it. Right, get your head straight, and so on.” A kid can go to medical school and say, “I’m not into anatomy this year. I’m into relating. So I’d like to take a few more courses in psychology, because I need to know how to relate to people better.” The medical school then says, “Who in the hell do you think you are, kid? We’re not interested in your interests. You’re going to take anatomy. If you don’t like it, that’s tough.”
We have no trouble believing that an incompetent medical physician can harm us so we expect those people who train our medical professionals to train them well. However, we don’t believe that an ill prepared minister can be dangerous, so we don’t even expect them to be properly trained.
Our television airwaves are full of people who have refused proper theological education because they think they can train themselves, or they opt to be trained by someone else who lacks proper theological training.
The result of such people having prominent voices in ministry would be the same result as having thousands of self trained physicians. The people treated by their bad medicine/theology would be sick and deformed.
You wouldn’t allow an ill-prepared physician to treat you, so stop being led by ill-prepared ministers.
Bad theology hurts people. Doing good theology isn’t about getting it right every time (we cannot do that). Doing good theology is about helping people every time.