Mohler: Theologians must not miss the chief end of theology

Communications Staff — October 26, 2005

Pursuing a correct knowledge of biblical doctrine must lead Christians to a deeper love of both God and neighbor, or they will have missed the point of studying theology, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in an Oct. 11 chapel sermon.

Preaching from Matt. 22:34-40 during the seminary’s annual Heritage Week observance, Mohler warned those who study theology to be on guard against “missing the forest for the trees.” Authentic Christianity is comprised both of correct biblical doctrine and a love for God and neighbor, the seminary president said.

“There are persons whose focus is so small they miss the big picture, not only the forest but even the tree,” Mohler said. “We are those who know that every single word of Scripture is true. We know that every doctrine is important, that all truth is God’s truth and for this reason, all truth is to be honored and cherished and received. There are no minor truths.

“But it is possible to miss the big picture. It may be important for us in humility to recognize that this may be a temptation that those who would seek to be orthodox and conservative and right and true may need to be especially mindful of.

“We do not apologize for seeking to get doctrine right. There is no excuse for theological sloppiness. There is no excuse for theological accommodationism. There is no excuse for dismissing or sidestepping God’s truth, but there is no excuse for missing the big picture.”

Every word of Scripture is true and is, therefore, important, Mohler said, pointing out that orthodoxy in the early church once hanged on the proper understanding of a syllable of a single word. Thus, Mohler said Christians must carefully study the Scriptures and formulate doctrine in accord with God’s Word.

But accurate understanding of doctrine must lead the theologian or student to obey the greatest commandment—to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength—and to fulfill it completely by keeping the second great commandment which demands that one must also love his neighbor, Mohler said.

However, love to God and love to neighbor must not be defined by mere sentimentality, but by Scripture, he said.

“Everything comes down to this,” Mohler said. “Here we find our center of gravity. This is not mere sentimentality. We are so confused about love in our culture we are not even sure how to use the word and how not to use the word. When we are speaking about the love of God, this reminds us that there is emotion and there is the experiential level of this. This is not some kind of esoteric mysticism.

“This the robust Christian love which is the devotion of everything that we are and everything that we have and everything that we hope focused upon the one true and living God. If the end result of our theological education is not that we love God more deeply, more powerfully, more authentically, more truly, then we have missed the point.

Love to God and love to neighbor manifests itself in the life of a believer through a fervent commitment to evangelism, Mohler said.

“If we love God we would love God’s love for His own glory in seeing sinners saved by the blood of the Lamb,” Mohler said. “And love of God and love of neighbor will lead us to want to know more, to get theology right and to be more passionate about evangelism.

“Then we will love like God loves and we would love to see what God loves to see and we would love to be a part of what God loves to happen. We would certainly be more mission-minded because we would no longer be blinded by the limitations of race and ethnicity and we would have the incredible vision of the book of Revelation. We would long to see what God wants us to long to see and that is people of every tongue and tribe and nation declare His glory through the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

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