I’m going to be using some of my Hill Country News columns to explore a topic that has an impact on all of us: Bad Theology.
Bad Theology happens when someone says something about the Most Holy Trinity that is ridiculous. Bad Theology doesn’t offend the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; in fact, it’s not possible to hurt or annoy the Most Holy Trinity. However, Bad Theology makes life hard for us.
Let’s say you’re sitting in a crowded waiting room. A woman walks in; she is speaking with the receptionist, and she says in a loud voice, “Boy, that parking lot is packed! But, you know, I asked the Lord to find me a spot, and there was a space right in front of the door!”
We hear this sort of stuff a lot, but what makes it Bad Theology?
Two things. First, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit do watch over every detail of our lives. So, the woman is right to thank the Most Holy Trinity for that great parking spot. However, she should be willing to display the same kind of gratitude — and testify with the same level of enthusiasm — about a horrible spot a block and a half down the street.
In fact, she should be prepared to thank the Father, Son and Holy Spirit even if a piece of space junk falls from the sky and flattens her car while it’s in that horrible spot. Because you can’t have it both ways: When good things happen, you can’t get excited about how the Most Holy Trinity is looking out for you, and then, when bad things happen, and act like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit somehow let you down.
So, if you’re going to go public about the goodness of the Most Holy Trinity you need to be consistent; you need to thank the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the bad stuff as well as the good stuff.
But is a public pronouncement really the best way to honor the Most Holy Trinity?
That brings us to the second reason why this is Bad Theology. There are times when it is appropriate to talk about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and there are times when it isn’t.
If you’re in a worship service, if you’re having lunch with some close friends, if you’re interacting with a closed group on social media, then talk about the Most Holy Trinity. But making pronouncements about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to total strangers leads to Bad Theology.
Think about the scenario we’ve been considering. What if there is a dad in that waiting room whose child has a life-threatening illness? That man is wondering if the Most Holy Trinity cares about his child, and then this woman proclaims that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are working overtime to get her the best possible parking spot. That woman’s testimony could cause that dad to walk away from the Most Holy Trinity.
And, of course, the irony here is that the woman could offer her gratitude to the Most Holy Trinity before she gets out of her car. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit would be blessed, and she would not hurt anyone else.
If you have questions about Bad Theology or if there is some Bad Theology that you would like to see addressed in an upcoming column, send me a note; give me a call. I’d love to talk with you.
Father Aidan Wilcoxson is the pastor of St John Orthodox parish in Cedar Park (www.theforerunner.org). He can be reached at email@example.com.