David Lee Brown
Thinking You Know vs. Knowing
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” Matthew 22:29
The verse above is a response from Jesus to the Sadducees who asked him a question. They wanted to know who would be the husband in Heaven of a woman that widowed and remarried. His indignant response followed and he explained that we wouldn’t have spouses in heaven. In heaven our focus will be on Christ and our relationship to Him, not our earthly human relationships. This will not exclude those relationships, but, in my opinion, will make them virtually irrelevant in comparison to our relationship with Christ.
The Sadducees were engaging in theology that they were raised up to understand. Stone and Duke stated that “embedded theology” and implicit theology are synonymous and represent our daily theology as Christians. The Sadducees had their own Jewish theology that was embedded in their daily lives. Jesus spoke to them as if they should have known the answer. They failed to know the answer, because they were entrenched in their embedded theology.
This is a problem in many Christian churches and denominations. They become entrenched in a specific ritual or custom that may or may not be correct and then object when differing opinions arise. Stone and Duke further stated that our use of language in our daily activities reflects our beliefs as we learn Christianese, Christian rituals and customs. This makes it difficult for non- Christians especially, but also new Christians to understand. Sometimes they simply have no idea what we’re talking about. Whether or not we can articulate this Christianese to others is cause for concern, unless we anticipate the questions presented by Christians and non-Christians we encounter, according to Stone and Duke.
Just like the embedded theology of the Sadducees caused conflict with Jesus’ theology [the truth], Stone and Duke further argue that this embedded theology compels us to be in direct conflict with the sinful world around us, leading us into battle against the predominant worldview in defense of our Cristian worldview. That’s why the world can’t understand us and often hates us. They don’t speak our language and they can’t understand our worldview – unless we explain it to them in their own language while teaching them Christianese.
“Deliberative theology” is a deeper reflection on ones embedded theological beliefs, according to Stone and Duke, and they also assert, “The theologian wants to take all the testimony and evidence under advisement…” meaning that they contemplate on the truths with reverent skepticism in order to reveal the verified truth verses blind faith. Deliberative theology strives to verify and prove the theology and doctrine of Christianity, so that the truth is revealed. Deliberative theology is useful in cleaning up misconceptions or errors in our embedded theology, according to Stone and Duke. This makes sense, because one person can affect the doctrine of a church and if that doctrine is incorrect, in accordance with scripture, deliberative theology can step in and make a course correction. In other words, through careful study of scripture errors in doctrine can be corrected.
Stone and Duke further attest that deliberative and embedded theology are not mutually exclusive and often support each other, but if the embedded theology is too entrenched the differences can be confrontational. This confrontation can be detrimental or beneficial depending on whether the conflict is discussed within a Biblical worldview or a secular worldview. Biblical conflict resolution is always supposed to be done with humility and respect. Secular conflict resolution is often arrogant, confrontational and full of pride.
We must not get entrenched in any ritual or custom that is non-Biblical. We must always seek the truth in accordance with scripture, not the thoughts or ideations of an individual or group. We must share Christ with others using common language, while patiently and respectfully teaching them Christianese. Lastly, we always need to seek God’s will and way through carful and prayerful study of the Bible. All doctrine, rituals, customs and theology must reconcile with the Bible.
 Stone, Howard and James Duke, How to Think Theologically (Minneapolis, MN, Augsburg Fortress, 2013), 15.
 Stone and Duke, How to Think Theologically, 15.
 Stone and Duke, How to Think Theologically, 16.
 Stone and Duke, How to Think Theologically, 17.
 Stone and Duke, How to Think Theologically, 18.
 Stone and Duke, How to Think Theologically, 20.
 Stone and Duke, How to Think Theologically, 21.
Stone, Howard W., and James O. Duke, How to Think Theologically. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2013.