Bad theology is at the heart of much of the trouble within today's church. We literally do not worship the same God.
When I was in seminary, I did not enjoy the study of theology because it seemed so difficult and complex. And frankly, much of it is, and our thousands of different doctrines within our hundreds of different churches is proof of that.
But basic, down-to-earth theology is something we must get right. Theology really means "the logic of God," and many of us are going to the very same Bible and using the wrong "logic of God."
If I persist in believing that 2 + 2 = 5, and if I am convinced that a crooked line is the shortest distance between two points, then I am bound to come up with a different answer to a problem than you will. And frankly, many of our churches are using that 2 + 2 = 5 formula for God, and they are coming up with the wrong answers because they are using the wrong measurements.
Jesus Christ must be the yardstick used for our understanding of God. For Jesus said, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father ... I and my Father are one." And John in his Gospel says that "the word (of God) became flesh and dwelt among us." And he is talking about Jesus Christ.
Therefore, if your god is too small, or if your god is vicious and inconsistent, you are really not looking at the God of the Bible at all, but at some foreign deity.
And so, let us come to our Bible with a new understanding of basic theology. Jesus Christ gave us the best picture of God there is. And since God is the same yesterday, today and forever, then let us recognize that if there are portions of the Bible that suggest a God who is not like what Jesus told us, then we need to check it out against God's spiritual yardstick.
God has not changed through the centuries, but our human understanding of God has changed. The Bible is that marvelous record of holy men and women of old, struggling to know and to understand what God is like. Little by little, they learned and in "the fullness of time, Jesus came," and gave us the complete picture.
The Bible is sometimes a wilderness of confusion. But thank God, through Jesus Christ, I can find my way through, and find the truth.
Francis Guither, a pastor for 46 years, is the author of seven books. Guither is retired and lives in Quincy at Good Samaritan Home with his wife Katharine. His most recent church was Carthage United Methodist.