I believe that theology is very important in the Christian church. We cannot practice the right things unless we believe the right theology. It is vital that we stand firm on such essential truths as the deity of Jesus Christ and his substitutionary atonement for our sins. I also believe that it is important for Christians to take prophecy seriously. Jesus told us that He is coming back some day, and He warned us to watch vigilantly for His return. Therefore, if we love Him and believe in Him, we will take Bible prophecy seriously, and look for it’s fulfillment.
Nevertheless, it is possible for a Christian–especially a new believer–to become overly obssessed with both theology and prophecy. Yes, these things are important, but they are not the most important aspect of the Christian walk with God. Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 13 that the most important aspect of the Christian life is love. The pursuit of theology and understanding of prophecy has no spiritual value if it is not done in a spirit of love. Paul points out in verses 8-10 that the gifts of prophecy and knowledge are only temporary. There will be no prophets or theologians in heaven: only redeemed saints fellowshipping with God and with each other. Yes, the church needs good prophets and theologians, but they accomplish nothing of value in a loveless church. Love is the most important thing, because love is eternal.
In verse 11 Paul develops this idea further. He explains that a fascination with knowledge or prophecy represent an early stage in a Christian’s spiritual development, a child-like stage, but when we come to full maturity in Christ after the resurrection, this child-like phase will be obsolete:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me (I Corinthians 13:11 NIV).
It is necessary for all of us to be children once in order to become adults. Likewise, it is necessary for all Christians to pass through a adolescent stage, so to speak, before they become spiritually mature. While we live on Earth, before we are resurrected, before we have a perfect understanding of God, prophecy and theology are very important to us. They provide us with a factual, encyclopedic knowledge of who God is. But someday when we are resurrected we will not need to study books and commentaries in order to know who God is: we will see Him face to face. Therefore, we need to prepare ourselves for this great day now, by focusing not only on theology and prophecy, but more importantly on growing our love for God through loving each other. Theology and prophecy without love is useless.
Sadly, some young Christians put too much of a focus on prophecy and/or theology at the expense of love. They are too quick to judge other Christians by the creeds or confessions when they should really be learning to recognize a pure heart. An obsession with knowledge or prophecy to the exclusion of love is a sign of immaturity in a Christian. Many older Christians know this; that is why they often tend to become less technical in their spiritual conversation as they become older, and instead become humbler and milder. We should not necessarily disdain these older brothers when they “go soft.” They are not necessarily going astray. They are, perhaps, simply learning to love others with a purer heart.