Bad Theology and the dangers of it

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What does theology mean?
Theology - The Study of God, as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ and in Scripture.
This means that throughout the entire bible God has used every word in scripture to come together to form one revelation of who he is, how he loves us, and how we glorify him. This helps us to understand why he does what he does and why people in scripture respond how they respond.
Our errors in theology are rooted in our pride and our slothfulness.
R. C. Sproul
When we are lazy in our theology and we just read the bible to check off a box, we get into the dangerous habit of letting our pride control our actions. In the heat of the moment, in the fulness of our pride, our selfish desires could take over. We could even be trying to glorify God, but without truly knowing the character of God and how he calls us to live we face possibly misrepresenting him and failing to glorify him.
Today we are going to begin reading of a man in scripture who perhaps in the heat of the moment, in the fulness of his pride, and his desire to bring his people out of oppression acted slothfully and pridefully in his theology and by doing so he would go on to lose something of the upmost value to himself.


Judges 11:29–40 CSB
29 The Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah, who traveled through Gilead and Manasseh, and then through Mizpah of Gilead. He crossed over to the Ammonites from Mizpah of Gilead. 30 Jephthah made this vow to the Lord: “If you in fact hand over the Ammonites to me, 31 whoever comes out the doors of my house to greet me when I return safely from the Ammonites will belong to the Lord, and I will offer that person as a burnt offering.” 32 Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the Lord handed them over to him. 33 He defeated twenty of their cities with a great slaughter from Aroer all the way to the entrance of Minnith and to Abel-keramim. So the Ammonites were subdued before the Israelites. 34 When Jephthah went to his home in Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with tambourines and dancing! She was his only child; he had no other son or daughter besides her. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “No! Not my daughter! You have devastated me! You have brought great misery on me. I have given my word to the Lord and cannot take it back.” 36 Then she said to him, “My father, you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me as you have said, for the Lord brought vengeance on your enemies, the Ammonites.” 37 She also said to her father, “Let me do this one thing: Let me wander two months through the mountains with my friends and mourn my virginity.” 38 “Go,” he said. And he sent her away two months. So she left with her friends and mourned her virginity as she wandered through the mountains. 39 At the end of two months, she returned to her father, and he kept the vow he had made about her. And she had never been intimate with a man. Now it became a custom in Israel 40 that four days each year the young women of Israel would commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Jephthah misunderstood our Lord

In several ways we see Jephthah misunderstand God. It all begins in his desire to make a vow to the Lord. When he decided that he would make the Lord out to be a transactional God in the same manner than so many other God’s at the time were transactional, meaning that people thought that by offering burnt offerings to their god they would act as their genie and show them favor, but in thinking this way Jephthah forgot one of our God’s greatest traits.
What trait did Jephthah forget about our God in making a vow in order for himself to have victory over the Ammonites?
It is also important to note how Jephthah had poor theology and failed to understand the Lord in his hatred to human sacrifice. The bible tells us in Leviticus 18:21
Leviticus 18:21 CSB
21 “You are not to sacrifice any of your children in the fire to Molech. Do not profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.
and in multiple other places that the Lord has a deep disgust for human sacrifice. The interesting thing about all of this is that in his desire to please the Lord and bring the Lord’s people from under Ammonite oppression he adapted many of the Ammonites beliefs in the process. Jephthah would have good and well known that it was likely that a human would have walked out of his home and not an animal, this hints to the fact that he was okay with human sacrifice. Jephthah attempted to make a vow of a burnt offering and even became open to human sacrifice, two things that were commonly accepted within the Ammonite culture that he found so hard to defeat.
What is the danger in using ungodly methods to please God?

Properly Understanding the Lord

If we truly desire to please the Lord, it can not be understated the importance in having a good theological grasp of the scriptures. This doesn’t mean that we need to have every word of the bible memorized. That’s not a realistic expectation, but there are a few general rules we should always follow when interpreting scripture to make sure that we are not having a bad theology like Jephthah and putting ourselves at risk of living in disobedience to God.
Think before speaking - It is easy to say this, but harder to do. This is meant in all aspects of life, but I mean this specifically regarding discussing faith issues. It is important for us to have a grasp on defending our faith, that’s what the scriptures say, but it is dangerous for us to engage in a civil discussion about our faith and providing false information to someone. If you don’t know the answer to some deep theological question that someone is asking don’t feel dumb, don’t feel like you are letting them or God down. It is a wise man that knows when to step away and think.
I thought about the trinity topic and instead of making a fool of myself in that situation I simply walked away from it and now that I have thought through the issue I feel more prepared to answer that question in the future.
2. Think through the Triple A Method - If you don’t remember us talking through that, think of it in this sense, When a car breaks down and you need picked up, you call triple a. This works in the same way, when we study through our bibles we can come across terms and stories that can be very confusing. We have to consider that these stories were written thousands of years ago to people in different cultural contexts than us today, these texts still apply today, but sometimes we just have to dig a little deeper to find the meaning.
Author, Audience, and Application are the three A’s in triple A.
When we study we have to consider the author and the reason that he is putting pen to paper. These authors didn’t just write for the sake of writing. These men are writing to specific people, churches, or cities in the hope that they will react in some way positive for Christ. Our job is to understand what that purpose was and why the author wrote it.
It is also important to consider who the audience of the message. Paul would have written differently to a young Pastor in Timothy than he would in Romans to a church full of both Jews and Gentiles who are just trying to bridge the cultural gap between them and set their focus on Christ.
Lastly we must consider the Application but only after first looking at the author and audience. This will ensure we come away with an accurate understanding of the context of scripture and avoid bad and dangerous theology.
3. Ask God for his help discerning the scripture - It cannot be understated how important it is for us to bring God into this process. It is hard enough to understand one single piece of scripture, but when we cross reference and look at the big beautiful picture of the bible we are met with a near impossible challenge for a human to do on their own. This is why we need God’s guidance and direction in our studying of his word. God will guide and direct you through the scriptures if you let him.
There are still feasible things that we must do such as the Triple A Method in order to grasp the scriptures. We can’t just say God told me it means this so it means this, God will give you conviction to look into the scriptures and find tangible evidence to show that his word means what we thought it meant.


As we conclude, we want to make it a priority to not understate the importance of having sound theology. If Jephthah would have truly gleaned the word and thought rationally about the decision to perform a human sacrifice on his daughter then he would have seen that that isn’t something that God would have supported. Sometimes we just need to stop and think rationally before we do something. In the crazy world we have today where so many people have taken scripture out of context, we need to be believers who LOVE THE WORD and respect it for what it is. There are things in the bible that I don’t like because they go against my human nature, but I must submit to them because as much as I don’t like some of it, I love the Lord so much more.
So as you go back into school or work or wherever, you will feel inclined to act in a certain way based on some scripture that you thought you knew or even a scripture that you heard from someone else. I pray that todays message makes you think... even for a second of if that is truly Christ-glorifying or if you had perhaps taken something out of context. Today we can make the choice to glorify Jesus and be thankful for his sacrifice on the cross and it could start by taking just a few more minutes in our study to truly grasp God and his word.
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