153. The Principles of How to Treat the Theological Theories of Religion

(1) The theological theories of religion are but pretenders to the truth. They are counterfeits, all specious doctrines, that make man codify and resist God;

(2) The theological theories of religion do not come from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, but from man’s notions, imaginings, logic, and inductive reasoning. They are the lies of tricksters;

(3) The theological theories of religion are not the truth and cannot save people. The more one pursues theological knowledge, the more arrogant and conceited they become, and the more they deny the truth and resist God;

(4) The theological theories of religion are extremely deceptive, and one who believes in God, but does not pursue the truth, is extremely liable to be beguiled and controlled by them, thus setting off toward destruction.

Relevant Words of God:

All those in Christianity who study theology, Scripture, and even the history of God’s work—are they true believers? Are they any different from the believers and followers of God that God speaks of? In the eyes of God, do they believe in God? (No.) They study theology, they study God. Is there a difference between them who study God and those who study other things? There is no difference. They are just the same as people who study history, who study philosophy, who study law, who study biology, who study astronomy—they just do not like science, or biology, or any other subjects; they just like theology. These people study God by searching for clues and giveaways in the work of God—and what comes out of their research? Are they able to determine whether God exists? They never will. Are they able to determine the will of God? (No.) Why? Because they live amid words and phrases, they live amid knowledge, they live amid philosophy, they live amid the minds and thoughts of humans. They will never be able to see God, they will never gain the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. What does God define them as? As nonbelievers, as unbelievers. These nonbelievers and unbelievers mingle with the so-called Christian community, acting like people who believe in God, acting like Christians—but do they, in fact, truly worship God? Do they truly obey Him? No. Why? One thing is certain: It is because, in their hearts, they do not believe that God created the world, that He rules all things, that He can become flesh, much less do they believe that God exists. What does this unbelief indicate? Doubt, denial, and even an attitude of hoping the prophecies spoken by God—particularly those about the disasters—do not come true and are not fulfilled. This is the attitude with which they treat belief in God, and it is also the essence and real face of their so-called faith. These people study God because they have an especial interest in the scholarship and knowledge of theology, and are interested in the historical facts of God’s work. They are nothing more than a bunch of intellectuals studying theology. These “intellectuals” do not believe in the existence of God, so what do they do when God comes to work and His words are fulfilled? What is their first reaction when they hear that God has become flesh, and is performing new work? “Impossible!” They condemn whoever preaches the new work of God, and even want to kill them. What is this a manifestation of? Is this not the manifestation of them being bona fide antichrists? They are hostile toward the work of God and the fulfillment of His words, to say nothing of His incarnate flesh: “If You were not incarnated and Your words have not been fulfilled then You are God. If Your words have been fulfilled and You were incarnated, then You are not.” What is the subtext to this? It is that they do not permit the incarnation of God so long as they exist. Is this not a bona fide antichrist? This is a genuine antichrist. Do such assertions exist in the religious community? Such assertions are made very loudly, and also very forcefully: “It’s wrong that God has incarnated, it’s impossible! Any incarnation is a sham!” Some ask, “Have these people been misled?” Absolutely not. They just do not have true faith in God. They do not believe in the existence of God, they do not believe in the incarnation of God, they do not believe in God’s work of creating the world, much less do they believe in God’s work of being crucified and redeeming all mankind. To them, the theology they study is a series of historical events, it is a kind of doctrine or theory.

Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (7)” in Records of Christ’s Talks

What was the chief manifestation of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees? They only pored over Scripture and did not seek the truth. When they read God’s words, they did not pray or seek; instead, they studied the words of God, they studied what God said and did, and so turned His words into a kind of theory, into a doctrine that they taught to others. This is what poring over God’s words is. So why did they do that? What was it they pored over? In their eyes, these were not the words of God, they were not the expressions of God, much less were they the truth, but rather a form of scholarship. Such scholarship, in their eyes, should be passed on, it should be spread, and only this would have been spreading the way of God and the gospel. This is what they called “preaching,” and the sermon they preached was theology.

… The Pharisees treated the theology and theory they had mastered as a kind of knowledge, as a tool for condemning people and measuring whether they were right or wrong. They even used it on the Lord Jesus—that was how the Lord Jesus was condemned. Their appraisal of people, and the way they treated them, was never based on their essence, or on whether what they said was right or wrong, much less on the source or provenance of their words. They just condemned and measured people based on unyielding words and doctrines that they had mastered. And so, even though these Pharisees knew that what the Lord Jesus did was not a sin, and did not contravene the law, they still condemned Him, because what the Lord Jesus said appeared to be at odds with the knowledge and scholarship they had mastered and the theological theory they expounded. And the Pharisees just would not loosen their grip on these words and phrases, they clung onto this knowledge and would not let it go. What was the only possible outcome in the end? They would not acknowledge that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah who would come, or that there was truth in what the Lord Jesus said, much less that what the Lord Jesus did was in keeping with the truth. They found some unsubstantiated charges to condemn the Lord Jesus with—but in fact, in their hearts, did they know whether these sins they condemned Him with were valid? They did. So why did they still condemn Him thus? (They did not want to believe that the high and mighty God in their minds could have been the Lord Jesus, this image of an ordinary Son of man.) They did not want to accept this fact. And what was the nature of their refusal to accept this? Was there not something of trying to reason with God in this? What they meant was, “Could God do that? If God were incarnated, He must surely be born of distinguished lineage. What’s more, He must accept the tutelage of scribes and Pharisees, learn this knowledge, and read much Scripture. Only after He possesses this knowledge can He take on the title of ‘incarnation’.” They believed that, firstly, You are not thus qualified, so You are not God; secondly, without this knowledge You cannot do the work of God, much less can You be God; thirdly, You cannot work outside the temple—You are not in the temple now, You are always among the sinners, so the work You do is beyond the scope of God’s work. Where did the basis of their condemnation come from? From Scripture, from the mind of man, and from the theological education they had received. Because they were swollen with notions, imaginings, and knowledge, they believed this knowledge to be right, to be the truth, to be the basis, and at no time could God contravene these things. Did they seek the truth? They did not. What they sought were their own notions and imaginings, and their own experiences, and they tried to use these to define God and determine whether He was right or wrong. What was the ultimate outcome of this? They condemned the work of God and nailed Him to the cross.

Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (7)” in Records of Christ’s Talks

How is it that people of religion who believe in the Lord have been reduced to “Christianity”? Why is it that today, they are classified as a religious group, rather than as the house of God, the church of God, the object of God’s work? They have a dogma, they compile the work done by God, and the words He spoke, into a book, into teaching materials, and then open schools to induct and train all manner of theologians. Are these theologians studying the truth? (No.) So what are they studying? They are studying theological knowledge, which has nothing to do with the work of God or with the truths God speaks. And in so doing, they are reducing themselves to Christianity. What does Christianity advocate? If you go to a church, people will ask you how long you have believed in God, and when you say you have just started, they will ignore you. But if you go in clutching a Bible, and say “I just graduated from such-and-such Theological Seminary,” then they will ask you to come take the seat of honor. This is Christianity. Those somebodies who stand at the rostrum have all studied theology, are seminary-trained, possessed of theological knowledge and theory—they are basically the mainstay of Christianity. Christianity trains such people to preach at the rostrum, to go around evangelizing and working. They think the value of Christianity lies in such capable people as these students of theology, these pastors and theologians who preach sermons; they are their capital. If the pastor of a church graduated from a seminary, is good at expounding the Scripture, has read some spiritual books, and has a little knowledge and a way with words, then the church thrives, and has a much better reputation than other churches. What do these people in Christianity advocate? Knowledge. And where does this knowledge come from? It has been handed down from ancient times. In ancient times there was Scripture, which was passed from generation to generation, each generation reading and learning it, right up until the present day. Man divided the Bible up into different sections and created various editions for people to pore over and learn. But what they learn is not how to understand the truth and know God, or how to understand God’s will and attain the fear of God and shunning of evil; instead, they pore over the knowledge contained within them. At most, they look into the mysteries contained within, they look to see which prophecies of the Book of Revelation were fulfilled in a certain period, when the great disasters will arrive, when the millennium will arrive—these are the things they study. And is what they study connected to the truth? No. Why do they study things that have no connection to the truth? The more they study them, the more they think they understand, and the more they equip themselves with letters and doctrine. Their capital grows, too. The higher their qualifications, the more capable they think they are, the more accomplished they believe their faith in God is, and the more likely they think they are to be saved and enter the heavenly kingdom.

Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (7)” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Those in religion who believe in the Lord focus on memorizing a few well-known passages from the Bible; the more someone memorizes, the more spiritual they become, and the more admired they are by everyone. They are prestigious and have a high position. In fact, in real life, their outlook on the world, on mankind and on all different kinds of people is the same as the outlook of worldly people—it has not changed. This proves something: Those passages they have memorized have simply not become their life; it is plain to see they are merely a load of theories and religious doctrine, and have not changed their life. If the path you follow is the same as that followed by religious people, that makes you a believer in Christianity; you do not believe in God and are not experiencing His work. Some who have not believed in God for long admire those who have, whose speech is well-founded. They see such people sitting there and can talk for two or three hours with ease. They begin to learn from them—spiritual terms and expressions, as well as how the person speaks and carries themselves. They then commit to memory a few passages of spiritual words, and thus they carry on until, one day, the years of their belief are sufficient in number for them to sit and expound endlessly, eloquently, and at length. But if one listens closely, it is all nonsense, all empty words, mere letters and doctrines; and they are clearly religious cheats, cheating both themselves and others. What a sad thing! You must not follow that path, which, once trod, causes ruin, and is hard to turn back from. To treasure such things, to take them as one’s life, and to use them to measure oneself against others wherever one goes; to have, beyond a corrupt, satanic disposition, some spiritual theories, and elements of hypocrisy, besides—this person is not merely disgusting, but is disgusting in the extreme, sickening and shameless, and others cannot bear to look at them. Therefore, the denomination of those who once followed the Lord Jesus is now called Christianity. It is a denomination, and in their belief in God, they do no more than rigidly adhere to formality. There is no change at all in their life disposition, and they are not people who pursue the truth; their pursuit is not the truth, the way, and the life that come from God, but instead they seek to be Pharisees, and are hostile to God—these are the group of people now defined as Christianity. How did their group come to be called “Christianity”? It came about because they pass themselves off as holy, spiritual, and kindhearted, and as true followers of God, yet they deny all truth and they deny the reality of all positive things that come from God. They use words God has previously spoken to camouflage themselves, to arm and cloak themselves, and ultimately they use them as a sort of capital to cheat people everywhere out of food and drink. They disguise themselves as believers in God and thus swagger about and swindle others; they compete with others and vie with others—to them, these things are glory and capital. They also want to gain God’s blessings and rewards through deception. This is the path they follow. It is because they follow this sort of path that their group is ultimately defined as Christianity. Looking at it now, is the name “Christianity” good or bad? It is a disgraceful designation, and there is nothing glorious or splendid about it.

Excerpted from “Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in Records of Christ’s Talks

The best way to change the human disposition is to remedy those portions of people’s innermost hearts that have been profoundly poisoned, allowing people to begin changing their thinking and morality. First of all, people need to see clearly that all these religious rites, religious activities, years and months, and festivals are hateful to God. They should break free from these bonds of feudal thinking and eradicate every trace of their deep-seated propensity to superstition. These are all included in humanity’s entry. You must understand why God leads humanity out of the secular world, and again why He leads humanity away from rules and regulations. This is the gate through which you will enter, and although these things have nothing to do with your spiritual experience, they are the greatest obstacles blocking your entry, blocking you from knowing God. They form a net which enmeshes people. Many people read the Bible too much and can even recite numerous passages from the Bible from memory. In their entry today, people unconsciously use the Bible to measure the work of God, as if the basis of this stage in the work of God is the Bible and its source is the Bible. When the work of God is in line with the Bible, people strongly support the work of God and regard Him with newfound esteem; when the work of God is at odds with the Bible, people become so anxious that they break into a sweat, searching in it for the basis of the work of God; if the work of God has no mention in the Bible, people will ignore God. It can be said that, as far as God’s work today is concerned, most people accept it gingerly and with caution, they give it selective obedience, and feel indifferent toward knowing it; as for the things of the past, they hold on to one half and abandon the other. Can this be called entry? Holding the books of others as treasures and treating them as the golden key to the gate of the kingdom, people simply show no interest in what God requires of them today. Moreover, many “intelligent experts” hold the words of God in their left hand and the “masterworks” of others in their right, as if they want to find the basis of God’s words of today within these masterworks in order to fully prove that the words of God are correct, and they even explain God’s words to others by integrating them with the masterworks, as if they were at work. To tell the truth, there are many “scientific researchers” among humanity who have never thought highly of today’s latest scientific achievements, scientific achievements that are without precedent (i.e. the work of God, the words of God, and the path for life entry), so people are all “self-reliant,” “preaching” far and wide on the strength of their silver tongues, and flaunting “the good name of God.” Meanwhile, their own entry is in peril and they seem to be as far from God’s requirements as the creation is from this moment. How easy is it to do the work of God? It seems that people have already made up their minds to leave half of themselves to yesterday and bring half to today, deliver half to Satan and present half to God, as if this is the way to ease their conscience and feel some sense of comfort. People’s inner worlds are so insidious, they are afraid of losing not only tomorrow but also yesterday, deeply afraid of offending both Satan and the God of today, who seems to be and yet not to be. Because people have failed to cultivate their thinking and morality properly, they are exceptionally lacking in discernment, and they simply cannot tell whether or not today’s work is that of God. Perhaps it is because people’s feudal and superstitious thinking is so deep that they have long placed superstition and truth, God and idols, in the same category, not caring to distinguish between these things, and they seem unable to discriminate clearly despite racking their brains. That is why human beings have stopped in their tracks and no longer move forward. All of these problems arise from people’s lack of the correct kind of ideological education, which creates great difficulties for their entry. As a result, people never feel any interest in the work of the true God, but persistently stick to[1] the work of man (such as those whom they view as great men) as if they have been branded by it. Are not these the latest topics that humanity should enter into?

Excerpted from “Work and Entry (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Sermon and Fellowship Excerpts for Reference:

After reading a passage of God’s words, those pastors and scholars in religion, and those who study theology and conduct theological research, do not seek the truth or seek to truly know God in their real experiences, but instead study the words and letters, studying them from a theoretical standpoint, until finally they arrive at some conclusion or other. The conclusions which they reach are all doctrine. This is because they reached these conclusions based on the specialized textual research and deliberation, and not based on their own experience. Arriving at a conclusion based on the literal meaning of a text and the facts recorded in the Bible, and then giving rise to a theory, is known as theological theory. Such a theory does not contain any practical experience and understanding of God’s words, nor does it possess any enlightenment or illumination of the Holy Spirit. The understanding from the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit surpasses the literal meaning of words; it cannot be expressed by any superficial language. It is the most practical, the truest understanding, and cannot be derived from the Bible no matter how much it is studied. The Holy Spirit only enlightens and illuminates people when they seek the truth and practice and experience God’s words. So today God asks us to experience His words, and if, in our experience, we receive guidance, enlightenment, and illumination from the Holy Spirit, we can get a real understanding of God’s words. This real understanding cannot be brought out no matter how someone studies a book or the literal meaning of the words of God; this is something that cannot be reached by human thought. It is something that cannot be imagined by man; it is the practical understanding of God. Presently, we are experiencing God’s words and God’s work. That is why, in the end, we will achieve a real understanding of God. Those religious scholars and experts will never have a real understanding of God. No matter how hard they study the literal meaning of the words of God, it is all pointless. In the very end, God will condemn them. In their faith in God, they are not walking the path of experiencing God’s words and obtaining the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment. They rely on their own minds as they research, imagine and deliberate, and in the end, they will produce a type of theory. This theory is absurd and unrealistic, determined by God to be fallacy. That is why God does not acknowledge them to be people who understand God. They are all very absurd and preposterous people.

Excerpted from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life

Throughout the entire religious world, there are so many with scriptural and theological knowledge. Why cannot such people perform God’s work? It is because their scriptural and theological knowledge is all absurd knowledge; it can never take the place of the truth, much less accomplish God’s work or save mankind. Today, we have seen in God’s words that they are the truth, and all scriptural and theological knowledge is incompatible with the truth expressed by God. The more someone understands scriptural and theological knowledge, the more liable they will be resisting and condemning God. So what then is truth? Is there truth in theological knowledge? Is there truth in scriptural knowledge? These are not the truth. Scriptural knowledge is written by human beings, summarized from human thinking, and it is not the words of God; only the words of God are the truth. Scriptural knowledge and the words of God are two entirely different things and simply cannot be equated. When someone possesses theological and scriptural knowledge, how then are they able to resist God, pass judgment on God, and become an antichrist? This is because too much knowledge can only corrupt a person, make them arrogant and conceited, and make them resist God even more wildly. It is those who possess too much theological and scriptural knowledge who resist God even more severely. Two thousand years ago, the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees of Judaism, people who were just like Paul, had believed in Jehovah for generations and studied the Scriptures for over one or two thousand years. Their knowledge of the Scriptures was the most complete, yet in the end they became the chief culprits who resisted God, the enemies of God incarnate—group, after group, they became antichrists, “edified” by their knowledge of the Scriptures and theology. Some may ask, “What’s wrong with intense study of the Bible and research of theology?” Studying the Bible and theology is not the way to know God. Studying those things can only lead one to betray God more and more and stray farther and farther from the truth. Knowing God can only be achieved by experiencing God’s work and the work of the Holy Spirit. Studying theology and scriptural knowledge cannot allow one to gain the work of the Holy Spirit—making a study of these things is of no use. Those whom God perfects and uses in the Age of Kingdom have no scriptural or theological knowledge, nor are they intellectuals, so how come they can be used by God? What is the reason for this? It is because God does not perfect people with knowledge; God perfects honest people who love and pursue the truth, people like Peter.

Excerpted from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life

Would studying theology and pursuing knowledge help one achieve an understanding of God? Not only would you not achieve an understanding of God, it would instead cause you to grow more and more distant from God and more and more resistant to God. A lot of knowledge, including theological knowledge, is an enemy of the truth. Therefore, the more one focuses on theological knowledge, the more seriously one will resist God. In the end, one will become an enemy of Christ. Today, we accept Christ’s work and we accept Christ’s salvation. We are starting to have an understanding of God, we can see through the world, we can see through knowledge, we can see through theological theories and we can even forsake Satan and relinquish this knowledge, meaning that we have begun to embark upon the right track of salvation. If someone really understands the truth and can see through, discern, dissect, reject, and forsake Satan’s philosophies and laws, knowledge, and fallacies, then this person will be completely saved by God. Presently, have we achieved this stage yet? If you were asked to dissect one of Satan’s philosophies, would you be able to use the truth to thoroughly refute and criticize it? If you randomly took a book out from the bookshelf of the world, would you be able to find the fallacies that go against the truth within that book? If you randomly selected a religious book, and you could see clearly its fallacies, know where its mistakes lie, where it goes against the truth, and which truths it is not in accordance with; if you could achieve this level, then this would mean that you understand the truth and you have the truth. Say you come into contact with someone who believes in God. Regardless of what kind of person they are, whether they are a pastor or an elder, when they start to talk you will know the absurdity in what they say, where they are mistaken and what truths they violate. This would prove that you truly understand the truth. At present, you have not achieved this stature, indicating that you still do not understand the truth. The consequences of not understanding the truth are that you are still susceptible to being deceived by Satan, deceived by man, and following false shepherds and false prophets. If someone from the religious world gives you a book to read, and after reading it, you think that it also teaches people to be good, and that there is nothing wrong with it, this proves that you are lacking in discernment and that you do not have the truth. When you are able to refute, thoroughly dissect and criticize all kinds of religious fallacies and all fallacies from mankind and the religious world that resist God, then this will prove that you truly have stature and you are able to be a witness for God.

Excerpted from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life

Footnotes:

1. “Persistently stick to” is used mockingly. This phrase indicates that people are stubborn and intractable, holding onto outdated things and being unwilling to let them go.

Previous: 152. The Principles of How to Treat Knowledge and Science

Next: 154. The Principles of How to Treat Unbelievers

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