Many try to evaluate their theology by comparing it with their own interpretation of the Bible. My contention is that there is another way to test what you believe. If your doctrine and its myriad implications do not promote universal peace, joy, love, and personal fulfillment, then the God revealed in the life and message of Jesus cannot be its author. People make of the Bible what they will, ignoring some of it and rationalizing the rest to fit as required, so a reference to the sacred text as proof of any doctrinal position is possible. To paraphrase an old saying: That which can “prove” anything “proves” nothing. This reference to the Bible as the theological standard is engrained in all of us by tradition and longstanding cultural bias. The test I propose is one that requires no particular knowledge of the Bible, much less any theological training. It calls for a simple practical application of what is taught and an honest evaluation of the natural consequences of that teaching in the lives of the believers and non-believers alike.
Perversely, the doctrinal test that many “believers” subconsciously apply is to check whether the professed non-believer rejects the doctrine. If so, it is seen as valid because the “world” is known to reject the “truth”. It is too little recognized that being confused and absurd are ample reasons to reject much that passes for doctrinal truth.
Here we have two possibilities: frame a theology based on a limited and admittedly inconsistent understanding of all scripture or fashion one which has the potential to bring about the promised blessings of the Kingdom: peace, joy, and abundant life now. These blessings are and always have been about the here and now not the hereafter. A theology which cannot promote kingdom blessings on earth cannot originate with the One who promised those blessings.