An Example of Bad Pop Theology
A seminary professor once told me that everyone is a theologian. What he meant is that everyone has an opinion of who God is and what He is like. When a considerable number of the general population accepts a concept about God, it can be called “pop theology”, meaning that a particular belief about God has become popular (regardless of whether it is true or not).
One belief of pop theology, even among some professing Christians, is that if something bad happens to you, then it can be traced back to sin in your life. This was the basic argument of Job’s friends when Job faced calamity. Eliphaz stated, “Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.” (Job 4:8) This is a biblical principle. However, Job’s friends were incorrect in their application of it, for God Himself described Job as “upright” (Job 1:1, 8: 2:3). This same pop theology was a belief of Jesus’ disciples at one point, but Jesus revealed their error.
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. (John 9:1-3)
Jesus explains that not all problems in life can be traced to personal sin. Certainly, personal sin has consequences and the Bible consistently demonstrates that fact. However, as was the case with the blind man above, the reason for the difficulties we face is not always due to a sin we have committed.
A simple fact that we all must realize is that we live in a world that is cursed by sin and bad things will happen to us regardless of our level of sinfulness or righteousness. All of us get sick, get hurt, and experience problems. We face calamity in our lives. This is often due to the sin-cursed world we live in and not necessarily because of sin we have committed. Thank God that through Jesus Christ, we do not have to remain in this state forever.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:22-23)
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:13-14)
There will come a time when Jesus will take the curse of sin away from us. Let us look for that blessed hope. In the meantime, we must seek to live pure lives that are pleasing to Him, recognizing that personal sin does have consequences. In addition, we must understand that the world in which we live is not perfect and because of that, we will experience the effects of sin upon it.
Let’s make this real practical. The next time you catch a cold, the likely explanation is the sin-cursed world we live in and not a specific sin you have committed. That is a theological position that is consistent with the teachings of the Bible.