Single-Issue Theology

Have you ever heard of a single issue voter? According to Answers.com:
Broadly based political parties have declined in their ability to aggregate issues into coherent ideological packages linked to the aspirations of major social groupings. The vacuum created has been filled by fragmented forms of single issue politics. This is often characterized by a preoccupation with the particular issue to the exclusion of all others, an intensity of feeling about the issue and a willingness to devote considerable resources of time and money to its pursuit.
Is it possible that the Church is suffering from a similar problem? Have many modern-day pastors been unable to balance diverse theologies into a single, unified worldview? Maybe a Christian phrasing of the above quote could read like this:
The Church in America has declined in its ability to aggregate theologies into coherent doctrinal packages linked to the aspirations of God. The vacuum created has been filled by fragmented forms of single issue theologies. This is often characterized by a preoccupation with a particular theology to the exclusion of all others, an intensity of feeling about the theology and a willingness to devote considerable resources of speaking and writing to its proliferation. This is also marked by an inability to find common ground with other Christians who disagree about this one particular theology.
While doing some research for this post, I ran across an article from The Barna Group that had some startling statistics. According to their research “just 9% of all born again adults and just 7% of Protestants possess a biblical worldview.” Equally startling is that, according to their research, “only half of the country’s Protestant pastors – 51% – have a biblical worldview.” In a society that is Biblically illiterate, it’s easy to understand why so many of us have become single-issue theologians.
Are you unknowingly a single-issue theologian? If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my studies of the history of Christianity, it’s that we have a tendency to get so wrapped up in a single theological tenant that we forget or minimize many of the others. Consider, for example, hellfire and brimstone theologians; those are the guys whose evangelism tactics include picketing soldiers’ funerals and…well just about anything else because God hates all of it!
Hellfire and Brimstone Theologians
Some single issue theologians focus solely on the wrath of God to the exclusion of the love of God.
But on the opposite extreme we have love-and-grace-focused universalists—or modern pastors who are the same in practice—who honestly don’t need to evangelize because everyone is getting into Heaven through all routes!
Other single issue theologians focus solely on the love of God to the exclusion of the wrath of God.
Perhaps the key is to examine yourself and recognize your own influences and emphases and determine where you’re off-balance. We all lean heavily on one theology or another. Additionally, we need to make sure that we don’t focus on one single theological issue to the exclusion of all others. For example, the never-ending debate between advocates of predestination vs. those who emphasize human choice. There is still a lot of common ground that can be found between Calvinists and Arminianists; but too many of us are focused on our single-issue theologies.
While there are grounds upon which we cannot move, there are also grounds upon which we can agree to disagree. For example, according to the Barna Group, people having a biblical worldview believe that absolute moral truth exists and that it is based upon the Bible; they also believe in the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize. We must all agree in those areas but we’re free to disagree about how to communicate those truths and in some ways how to put those truths into practice.
My goal with this post is to encourage you to seek if you are off balance. Do you focus too much on the wrath of God and think He hates everyone? Do you focus too much on the love of God and think that no one will ever go to hell? Or do you realize that, in order to fully appreciate the love of God, you must fully understand the wrath of God? That’s just one example of balancing two extremes, but I encourage you to look at what you believe to see if you lean to one extreme or another.
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