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Theory and Practice

By Ted Sims

In John We Robbins' excellent little article "The Crisis of Our Time" he states:
... theory without practice is dead and that practice without theory is blind. The trouble with the professing church is not primarily in its practice, but in its theory. Christians do not know, and many do not even care to know, the doctrines of Scripture.... It is a fundamental, theoretical mistake of the practical men to think that they can be merely practical, for practice is always the practice of some theory. The relationship between theory and practice is the relationship between cause and effect. If a person believes correct theory, his practice will tend to be correct. The practice of contemporary Christians is immoral because it is the practice of false theories (pp. 145-6).

I could not agree more. Moreover, the primary problem of today's Christians is not that they simply have the wrong theory which they practice systematically but that they hold a plethora of contradictory theories which they practice randomly. It is this failure of today's Christians to systematize their knowledge of the Truth—their failure to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ"--that causes them so much trouble and ultimately destroys their witness for Christ.

Whenever we act in certain ways we do so because of our beliefs. Sometimes our actions are justified but often, especially for today's Christian, they are not. In fact, even before we became Christians most of our actions were not justified intellectually. It did not bother us then, but now it does because we are being confronted by the Truth, and we see our inconsistency. Being Christians who haven't "arrived" yet, we hold many false beliefs, and so when we act on these beliefs, we are uncomfortable.

The Bible tells us to "not be conformed to this world" but to "be transformed by the renewing of [our] minds" (Rom 12:2). But knowledge of the Truth and believing the Truth are not synonymous. Knowledge can be a mere "knowing" the facts whereas to believe is something more. To believe something is to rely on it. Now I am not mitigating against knowledge for it is a knowledge of the Truth by which we transform our beliefs. This transformation occurs whenever we begin to systematize our knowledge. So then we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

The problem for today's Christians is that their beliefs are in conflict with the Truth. What today's Christians needs to do is to saturate themselves with a knowledge of the Truth, by an act of the will submit to the Truth. As they do this they begin to systematize the Truth—they begin to expurgate and eradicate their false beliefs and replace them with the Truth. They begin to rely more and more ("from faith to faith") on the Truth; thus they are truly transformed by the renewing of their minds.

The trouble with most Christians today is that they are lax in their acquiescence to the Truth, and thus they end up letting their emotions and errors dictate their actions instead of relying on the Truth to transform them. Soli Deo Gloria!

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

Robbins, John W. "The Crisis of our Time." in Gordon H. Clark. The Johnnine Logos. Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1972.

Note: All Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.

The above article was posted on this Web site September 18, 1997.

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