There are many Christians who have an intense desire to improve their theological training and learn about the “deeper” things of the faith. This is a good ambition, but it is fraught with peril. Knowledge, even Biblical facts and church lore can make a person extremely arrogant and misguided. So, as I pointed out in my previous post, we need to conquer the basics of the faith before we can properly benefit from deeper theology. We must first succeed in “faith, hope, and love” (I Corinthians 13:13).
One of the pitfalls I see in those who study theology in depth, is that they become obsessed with a specific teacher, and begin fashioning themselves into his disciple. This is human-worship, and this is wrong, no matter how wise of a teacher He is. Our greatest love and respect must be fore the Scriptures, not writings about the Scriptures by great teachers. Our hero-worship must be limited to Christ. If our human teachers take primacy over Christ, then we become quarrelsome and argumentative, always contradicting others who do not respect our great heroes the same way we do. The Apostle Paul criticized the church at Corinth for identifying themselves with great teachers (such as himself) rather than with Christ:
You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? (I Corinthians 3:3-4 NIV)
These Christians at Corinth were behaving immaturely. They were using their supposed knowledge of deeper theology and their personal relationships with the Apostles to exalt themselves above the rest of their brethren. This is a trap that one can easily fall into today. It is most certainly possible for a Christian to have an unhealthy admiration for such great teachers as John MacArthur, Martin Luther, or John Wesley, etc. I don’t mean to pick on either of these guys, but they are all human and they all have failings. We should not undertake deeper learning for the sake of becoming better disciples of men like these, but rather we must work hard to become better disciples of the one man that all these men worshipped, Jesus Christ the carpenter who died on the cross for our sins.