We in America love our ideologies, and we gravitate toward others who affirm our preconceived notions. If you already dislike a certain politician, then find a blog or article that affirms the worst about him or her. If you really like a politician, then discredit a negative news story by claiming “fake news” or calling people names. So why not just create our own theology in the same way? Well, we American Christians do this as well, so I thought I would help all of us out and develop a 10 point plan on how to do this effectively. By following this plan, you will be able to convince everyone else of the legitimacy of your theological view by making it look biblical. In addition, people will think you’re smart!
STEP 1: Identify a belief you already hold, either consciously or subconsciously, or would like to see affirmed.
The first step in this intuitive process is actually very easy. The conscious beliefs you hold, of course, are very easy to identify. Say you believe that the Trinity is false and you would love to see the Bible affirm this. Write it down! You’re done with this step, so move on to Step 2.
However, sometimes it’s very helpful to identify a subconscious belief to create your own theology. This can be a little more tricky. Sometimes you have to give yourself a little time to discern these, perhaps waiting for an internet blog written by a high school dropout who lives in his mother’s basement in Montana to stoke your brain or some kind of sin to awake your lethargic cognitive faculties.
If you have very much difficulty with the subconscious beliefs, no worries! It’s a moot point. Just come up with a belief that you’d like to see the Bible affirm, like polygamy. Cultural beliefs are always easy to choose from and ready-made for creating your own theology (and helpful for fulfilling Step 8: Make sure your new theology is culturally palatable!). Once you choose one, write it down! Then move on to the next step.
STEP 2: Go to the Bible for proof-texting.
This step may seem difficult at first blush, but it’s probably one of the easiest. This requires very little thinking. Just pull open a Bible and find any words that may relate to the belief you want the Bible to affirm, and viola! You have your proof text.
To make this step easier to grasp, here’s an example. Let’s say you believe that women ought to be pastors and would love to see the Bible affirm this position. All you need to do is find passages in the Bible that talk about women in a positive light (and there are many of them!). You really do not need to do anything else. This will help you in Step 9 when you claim victory that the Bible says what you want it to say. Now move on to Step 3.
Helpful tip: If you are not very savvy at this, you can always overextend yourself by looking up what others use for verses that already support this belief. For example, if you want the Bible to support women pastors, you would find that Galatians 3:28 is a very popular verse to use as a proof text. It reads, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (ESV). As you can see, this verse says there is “no male and female” if you are a Christian. Thus, it’s obvious that you can use this verse to support the idea of ordaining women as pastors. Of course, you could use this verse to support hermaphroditism, transgenderism, or even bisexualism. Don’t be fooled into thinking there is some greater “context” here that may give a different meaning to this verse. That’s irrelevant. You are doing your own theology.
Step 3: Perform what looks like “word studies” in Greek (and Hebrew, if possible, and other cool dead languages like Latin).
This step is probably the most difficult. Most people do not know the original languages of the Bible. But that’s o.k. Just borrow studies from those on the internet who appear to know Greek and Hebrew. If you’re lucky, you may even stumble across a scholar who actually knows Greek and Hebrew who supports the position you want to affirm. Use their work! Don’t get caught up into doing your own study and investigation. Rely upon authority.
Here’s a great example: say you want to affirm the belief that God accepts the practice of homosexuality. No problem! Romans 1:26-27 states that “men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men.” Here, it looks like the Bible is condemning the practice of homosexuality. Use Greek words to show the opposite! The key word is natural. It comes from the Greek word physis (φύσις) [Note the awesome Greek letters used! It adds the auroa of smartness.]. Convince people that this Greek term actually means “what one does what is natural to him or herself. ” (Ignore the fact that it actually means “what is according to nature, or how one was created.”) Thus, what this verse really (you must add the word “really”) means is that men ought not practice what is not natural for them–men who are attracted to men ought not have relations with women–that would not be natural for them.
Helpful tip: Remember to ignore all other biblical texts and surrounding verses of the chosen proof text. This may only hurt your created theology.
Step 4: Reconstruct the social and historical contexts of the chosen biblical passage to fit your belief.
This step is essential when attempting to convince others of your contrived theology. By reconstructing the historical and social context of your chosen passage, you can give the impression that you’re an informed, well researched historian. It doesn’t matter if you have any of the historical facts right. Just make them up. In fact, it’s better that you do so you can have a more air-tight argument.
Here’s a great example to illustrate. Say you desire to affirm that the Bible supports slavery as it was practiced in Antebellum America. No problem! Go to the Old Testament (there are a lot of slavery texts in the OT!). Then, argue that the historical and social context of these slavery passages is that of white male privilege. Sure, we know this is impossible, considering the OT was in the context of the Hebrew people. But remember that this is irrelevant when making up your theology.
You’re now ready for Step 5!
Step 5: Always use big vocabulary words and complex sentence structures.
This is absolutely essential. Never write sentences like this: “The Bible says that love is all that matters.” No, no, no! Write this: “After comprehensive historical research and a gargantuan exegesis of innumerable Scriptural pericopes, the majority of scholars have concluded that agape (αγάπη) is the most important among anthropological relationships within the diverse cultures around the world that the divine emphasizes throughout the received covenantal treatise.” That’s much better! (Note the Greek word, too!)
Now move on to Step 6.
Step 6: Quote people who agree with you.
This step is obvious. Why would you ever quote someone who disagrees with your made-up theology or gives an alternative perspective? You are trying to convince your readers of the truth of your theology. Don’t muddy the waters by examining different perspectives. Cherry-picking is best when creating your own theology. And always make sure to use awesome sounding quotes, even if they don’t have any relevance to your strained interpretation. This quote always works: “Knowledge is power.” No one knows who really said it or the context in which it was said, and no one really cares. Just use it. It makes you sound cool and authoritarian.
You’re ready for Step 7!
Step 7: Misconstrue any opposing viewpoints.
If for some reason you make the foolish mistake of providing an opposing viewpoint, don’t worry! Just misconstrue the viewpoint. In other words, create a straw man so you can knock it down. The best effective way is to make the other view look really extreme and crazy, something that no one in his or her right mind would ever hold. Throw in some personal attack, too. Like this:
“Some theologians would say that open theism denies the foreknowledge of God. But that’s just philosophically naive. It’s better than believing that God controls everything, making you a robot, like Molinism or Arminianism. Not only that, such views make God the author of evil and creator of people just to send them to hell.”
Easy, squeazy! On to the next step!
Step 8: Make sure your new theology is culturally palatable.
Never, ever make your new 21st century subjective theology something that goes against the grain of culture. You want to be a hipster, not a “has-been.” Choose something like pedophilia, feminism, social justice, socialism . . . anything culturally palatable. You want to be seen as “inspiring” and “provocative” and “scholarly.” You want to be popular, innovative, a “discoverer” of something new in the biblical text that has never been found. You want to draw crowds, and you want to be seen as “smart.”
Now you’re ready for the most important step!
Step 9: Claim victory!
If you have followed Steps 1-8, this step is easy. You now can claim victory. By the time you get to this step, you will have substantiated and, more probable than not, proven your new theology. You have shown that you know all the relevant Bible passages of your given theology as well as the historical and social context of your proof texts, and you have quoted authorities and used cool biblical languages. Here’s a great way to word your victory statement: “After this arduous study, we can now see that inquiry into the relevant biblical passages and the historical socio-political contexts of those passages, render the view presented here incontrovertibly lucid.” (Note the awesome words used as directed in Step 5!)
Step 10: Disseminate your theology through preaching and writing.
Now you are ready to become popular, hip, and an authority of your new theology. Begin a blog and go on podcasts (better yet, start a YouTube channel) to spread your pseudo-theology. When doing this, it’s helpful to maintain an aura of aloofness by using big words and stretching your educational and expert credentials. Sure, you may have only a Master’s in biology, but you can easily stretch this to mean that you are an expert in areas where theology and biology intersect. After all, you’ve been a school teacher for years and you’ve been reading the Bible since you were a child. This is enough to claim expertise in our emphasis-upon-education culture we live in.
If you follow these easy ten steps, you will be an expert theologian in our American context and your theology will seem soundly biblical. Go ahead! Give it a try and watch your popularity soar to unimaginable heights!