Nasty Habits Hidden in Theology

Hello, what’s this? I found it in a second-hand theology book I bought some years ago. It’s a small plastic packet with green ‘alien’ faces upon it. Inside are traces of white powder. Call me a miserable cynic with a too-negative-view of human nature if you want- but I suspect the powder is some illegal narcotic. Some budding theologian must have considered the book too tiresome and resorted to artificial stimuli to liven the pace. Of course, I might be wrong- it could be sherbet or a personal dandruff storage device, but I don’t intend to taste or sniff it to find out. By the time you read this, it will have been destroyed.

‘Possession’ of drugs means to merely have illegal substances in one’s control or custody. They may not have been consumed nor distributed for the offence to have occurred. If my suspicions are correct, I have been ‘in possession’ of some nasty ingredient, even though I didn’t know it. I now wonder what else might be hidden among the leaves of my many books. More multifaceted than the greatest of libraries, the human heart is a wondrously extensive repository of evil and villainy. We design machines to kill, maim and torture, we develop new methods of stealing and embezzlement, we plan new methods to dominate and coerce others. Even a so-called good person can produce terrifying quantities of envy, rage, godlessness and pride. My book of theology perhaps provided a good camouflage for someone’s nefarious hobby; religion in general is used to mask and justify a great deal of wickedness. From popes and priests lording it over the poor, perverted paedophiles clamouring to assist in a Sunday school, or arrogant pastors entering a pulpit like Lucifer ascending the heights of the clouds. Religion, I’m sorry to say, is sometimes the stage upon which our worst characteristics come out to play.

There’s a major difference, however, between religion and gospel. The former is a human construct, a man-made attempt to make sense of the universe with ritual and hierarchy. Gospel is God’s glorious plan to reconcile sinners to Himself. Rather than concealing our wickedness, it exposes it by means of God’s moral law. Having been humbled to see our sorry selves as God sees us, we may then cry out to a gracious God to save us. 

A sincerely religious person who lives and dies without the Lord Jesus Christ is a theology book harbouring the very worst of human habits. It’s not ‘religion’ that saves, but Christ Himself.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26