The good news is, God uses this for our good.
You may have heard it said that it’s impossible for two people to ever read the same book, or that you never read the same book twice, and it’s true. Every person takes the pages they read and experiences them through their own unique lens. Then, even this is not static, because our perspectives change with age and experience.
I read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was eleven. I loved it. I just re-read it, and it was a totally different book. The narrator’s voice sounded different, the story was simpler, and Aslan was more relatable. Yet, the words never changed, I did. Same book, but a different book for me.
The same holds true with the Bible. God created me uniquely in His image, so I will uniquely encounter His character in the Bible in a way that you won’t, because you’re not me. You will see things in the Bible I guarantee you I will miss, because I’m not you. That’s why we are the body of Christ. That’s why we need each other. We all have biases, blind spots, wrong interpretations, misplaced conclusions…we all have plenty wrong with what we believe.
So why does God allow that? Why is God so okay with us viewing Him through inaccurate lenses? We’ve built entire doctrines about how God works, how sanctification works, how healing works, and a million other things that are wrong! We’ve not only put God in a box, but the box isn’t even the right color!
This is because God gladly relates to us within our wrong framework we’ve built even while He works to free us from it.
Wrong theology still works, because it helps us connect to Him.
Even the Apostle Paul recognizes this. He says that we see through a dark, distorted lens, and our knowledge is lacking and broken. Only once Jesus has perfected all things at the end of days will we have these glaring problems corrected. (1 Cor 13:12) Just try telling your pastor that the Apostle Paul, the writer of nearly half the New Testament, saw God through a dark and distorted lens. I’m sure that will go over well.
Here’s a biblical example: In the Roman church, there was a group of Christians who wholeheartedly believed it was wrong to eat meat, while the other group believed every food was good to eat. Paul acknowledges that one view is the “weaker” view (his nice way of saying “yea, they are wrong”), but he tells the “strong” to not set a stumbling block in front of the weak. Paul even tells the Romans that all foods are okay to eat, but he doesn’t condemn the weak for their wrong interpretation. Instead he says “look guys, it’s not about all that, it’s about living right between you and God, overwhelmed by peace, overflowing with joy. That’s Christianity; that’s the kingdom.” (Rom 14:17, my paraphrase)
Living in this kind of Christianity, God can take care of our wrong theology in the context of deep, fulfilling relationship with us. We don’t have to judge one another or stress about how he believes everyone should speak in tongues while she believes the gifts of the spirit have ceased, or how she believes it’s always God’s will to heal while he believes it’s only sometimes his will. We don’t have to be divided because I’m a Calvinist and you’re an Arminianist, or because you have no idea what those words mean and I’m a theologian!
Here’s a more modern example that I’ve heard quite a bit on from both sides. There is a theology that says that people struggle with various issues because of curses passed down through their generational line. The way to get over these issues is to repent and break off these curses through the power of Jesus. Others believe that when Jesus was cursed on the cross, and paid for the sins of the world, that included any curses and generational sins, which means those curses are broken off at the moment of salvation. One is a system to bring a person into freedom through the power of the cross, the other says because of the cross you were already freed, meaning nothing is there to remove. People have found genuine freedom and happiness through both theologies. How does that work?
Both theologies cause people to put trust in the character of God. They both bring a person into the revelation that God is a good, loving, kind God who wants us to be free and wants our joy to be made complete. This trust in God allows Him to do what he loves to do, and results in life for the person. Sure, one interpretation is right, and the other has a distorted perspective, but both allow people to grow deeper in their relationship with God. God chooses to work within both of those boxes so that he can take them into deeper relational joy with Him.
Faith can move mountains in your life. Even when your faith is in a perspective that’s missing something, God can use that faith to change your life. We should continue to be truth seekers, but God meets us when our “truth” is still lacking. He meets us in this tension of ignorance, distortion, and learning.
Wrong theology works.
Because God is that darn good to us.