Theological arguments tend to go to extremes. As people argue, they get pushed further and further into their corner.
There are those who think that exaggerating their point somehow makes their point more spiritual. Rather than emphasizing a doctrinal point, they are making themselves and their doctrine better than the other guy’s. It has little to do with holding highly doctrine and more to do with holding yourself highly.
Let me give you an example.
We are saved by grace through faith. One would think the response to salvation by grace through faith would be a desire to serve the one who saved us by His grace. I will show you my honor of grace by my works. As Paul said, because of God’s grace, “I labor more abundantly than they all.”
But wow, that seems pretty tough. Awful worky. So I will come back with my higher view of grace that says, “You know, grace is so great, I don’t think works are necessary. It’s all Christ. It’s all grace. I am so little and insignificant. It’s all grace.”
This attempt to magnify grace carries some arrogance with it. To say that grace is so big I can’t do anything anyway, so I won’t, although seeming to glorify grace, actually tends to glorify your own self.
So the next guy, rather than going back to Paul’s idea that grace makes you labor more, has to outdo the last sanctimonious theologizer. He has to glorify grace even more than the “I can’t do anything” guy.
So the next guy says, “Grace is so amazing, so large, so incredible, not only can I not do anything, I will say that grace is so big, it is magnified even more by my abject sinning. I will get so far away from the dangers of good works, I will just sin and let God’s grace, which is so amazing, cover it all. I am nothing but a sinner, sinning in the glories of God’s grace. Praise God!”
The journey is complete. You can’t get any further away from the Bible’s stance on grace. But all this is done in an effort to glorify grace.
That’s what’s so amazing about so much false doctrine: it was created to emphasize and glorify the very doctrine they eventually destroy.
The same thing is true of Calvinism and God’s sovereignty. God is so sovereign, He even makes people sin. We don’t understand how or why, we will say He’s not the author of sin, even while saying He is, it’s all a mystery, but God is glorified by things that are completely contrary to His character and glory.
In an effort to emphasize His sovereignty, they blaspheme His very nature.
(You will also note that in both the grace and sovereignty exaggerations, both end up saying sin is not that big of a problem! This is the root point of most bad doctrine.)
Once you are aware of this theological trend, you will see it everywhere.
It’s no longer about elevating our view of God, but rather elevating our views of ourselves and whether we are better than those people. All you need to do is listen to people and the attitude and arrogance dripping off their explanations. There is no one more arrogant than the guy who thinks he’s elevating his doctrine to lofty heights. (Read Michael’s comment from Justifying your Disobedience post last week for a recent example.)
It’s a sad thing. Using God for our own advancement. Using doctrine to brag about ourselves. Everyone is susceptible to it. Myself included. It’s a terrifying thing.
Stay humble, my friends. Stick with what the Bible says. Don’t fall for the trap that going beyond what Scripture says makes you more spiritual. It aint true.