Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Nominations: the worst theological invention

Last year, we voted for the worst liturgical invention (see here and here). Now, it’s time to nominate “the worst theological invention.” What do you think is the worst (or silliest, or most absurd, or most destructive) theological invention? Which theological idea causes you the most grief or embarrassment or hilarity?

Leave a comment with your nomination. I’ll choose five finalists from the list of nominations, and we’ll run a poll to find out which theological invention is really the worst of all. So don’t get “left behind” – get your nominations in now!

115 Comments:

michael jensen said...

I would say, the invention that says penal substitutionary atonement is an invention of Anselm and Calvin: Jeffrey John repeated this piece of ignorance recently in his Easter piece of straw-manning...

Anonymous said...

The doctrine of "the rapture" - this one causes me grief and embarrassment and hilarity all at the same time.

Damian said...

I like the idea of nominating "the rapture" as well. But, I will admit its usefulness in explaining the presence of underpants on the footpath.

kim fabricius said...

Not only didn't Anselm invent the doctrine of penal substitution, he didn't even deploy it (aut poena aut satisfactio). Calvin, of course, did, and if he too didn't invent it, he certainly refined it with his Latin view of criminal law. In any case, whoever the inventor, it's an unhappy invention. I should emphasis that I'm talking penal substitution, not substitution as such.

"Easter," writes Giles Fraser, "has its hawks and its doves." Penal substitution advocates are hawks. I coo. And it is interesting that atonement hawks are often war hawks too (and enthusiastic about capital punishment), particularly in the US. Which leads me to my nomination: Just War Theory. Meant to be a curtailment of war and not its justification, I know, it hasn't worked out that way, now has it? Abusus non tollit usum - but (another maxim) this is an exception that proves the rule.

Other nominations must surely include indulgences; papal infallibility; biblical inerrancy; the "horrible decree"; episcopacy as the esse of the church (particularly when it is combined with the manual transmission of grace); the priest as icon of Christ in his maleness; . . . the list is endless. And then there are others that require a lot of footnotes to be serviceable (like divine immutability), and others that are hard to make sense of (like Luther's doctrine of ubiquity). And then there are others that are too quickly dismissed by their opponents and perhaps deserve a further hearing (like transubstantiation).

There - something to piss off just about everyone, Catholic and Protestant! But if it doesn't make us too defensive, this should be a good, because humbling, exercise. The hardest thing about being a theologian - apart from self-deceit (which goes for everyone) - is not talking rubbish.

Aric Clark said...

ooh! ooh!

supralapsarian double-predestination.

hmm.. really, though the rapture is still more annoyingly stupid even than this.

Aric Clark said...

Biblical infallibility definitely needs to be on the list...

The inane evangelical idea that salvation comes through praying a prayer one time and accepting Jesus into your heart...

"Das Nichtige"

Complimentarity of female and male flesh.

Terry said...

My nominations:

1. biblical inerrancy
2. literalistic interpretation of Scripture (if this may be seen as a 'theological invention')

Sean Winter said...

Biblical Inerrancy is definitely up there, but I would also put in a bid for 'name it and claim it' doctrines - an idea which does untold damage, psychologically and theologically.

Jon said...

Not sure if this one counts but here's a quote I found in Tom Smail's book the Giving Gift:

"Footnote 15 - I here follow Karl Barth who, in line with some of the Greek Fathers, and much modern theology held that the human nature that Christ assumed was fallen humanity regenerated by the Spirit of Karl Barth..."

Tom Smail - The Giving Gift, 115.

So I guess my peeve doctrine is that of the quasi-divine nature of Karly B!

j. k. said...

I'll nominate biblical inerrancy, along with its perfect Catholic counterpart: papal infallibility. These two doctrines encapsulate everything that was wrong with 19th-century reactionary conservatism.

Cardinal Spin said...

*Gives Kim Fabricius a solemn look*

The worst theological invention?

All forms of Protestantism.

Ben Myers said...

"the Spirit of Karl Barth" -- is that an authentic quote, Jon? If so, it's absolutely priceless -- talk about a Freudian slip! Of course, reading contemporary books, one could be forgiven for thinking that some theologians have exchanged their old belief in biblical infallibility for a commitment to Barthian infallibility....

Patrik said...

Double predestination
Sola Scriptura
Male-only priesthood
cuius regio, euis religio
Just war

Anonymous said...

How about this one:

Salvation = going to heaven when you die.

michael jensen said...

Well, I am a happy hawk then! Of course the Giles Fraser quote is a silly false dichotomy.

Just to swing us back from our mad rush to the left, what about the promise of so-called assured results from the proponents biblical criticism of both testaments in the last two centuries, on whom so much contemporary theological reasoning blithely depends, and against whom infallibility and inerrancy were reactions - and yet, at the beginning of the 21st century we can confidently say that we now know LESS than we thought we did about the writing of the Scriptures...

Anonymous said...

Ha - just about to publish my comment and someone's got there before me. Still, I'll keep original post below.

Apart from the Cardinal's axe wielding these are all fairly uncontroversial. Why don't we spice things up a bit then? So, how about Historical Criticism? Or rather, the invention that historical readings are the norm for reading scripture. Has this not served to obscure other ways of reading important to the western tradition and strangled contextual cries of a false western hegemony over theology?

Im just prodding really but its got to be worth a mention I reckon.

Matt

ps Ben, good to hear you met David Ford at Cambridge. He's my supervisor and I couldn't ask for a more helpful and kind guy.

Aliocha said...

I would say Sola Scriptura, along with literal interpretation of the Bible.

Aliocha said...

I saw some nominations of Just War. I think you are being unfair. I propose the following exercise:

1 - Suppose next week Iran announces it has built nuclear weapons and is going try to wipe out the rest of the world;
2 - Are others countries to stay put and do nothing?
3 - If there had never been a Just War doctrine, wouldn't the questions concerning war be just outside the theological reflection? Wouldn't that be a kind of hiding your head in the sand?
4 - Have you got a better approach to deal with the moral problems and dilemmas of war?

Sure, there has been abuse, but I don't think that is a problem of the doctrine itself.

Brandon Jones said...

"perspicuity of Scripture"-Like other nominations above I'm focusing on its abuses. In my old neck of the woods, fundamentalist Baptist, this doctrine is the excuse for people to glory in their ignorance.

This, coupled with inerrancy leads to biblicism of the worst kind.

Al said...

My nominations:

1) The damnation of infants who die without baptism.

2) Limited atonement

3) All forms of double predestination

4) Virtualism, receptionism, memorialism--in other words, most Protestant construals (excluding Luther) of the eucharistic presence/absence

5) "Once saved, always saved"

A deacon, by the grace of God, said...

1. sola scriptura
2. penal atonement
3. just war
4. original sin (in the Augustinian sense)
5. I'm actually tempted to go with Cardinal Spin's "all forms of Protestantism," but I'll forego.

Macrina said...

This could be fun! My list would include:

- penal substitutionary atonement no matter who invented it, although if my memory is correct we can't really hold Anselm responsible;

- the doctrine of limited atonement taught I believe by some Calvinists, the idea that Christ only died for the elect. Personally I find the idea of election problematic enough anyway, but the idea that Christ's sacrifice is not "on behalf of all and for all" (as the Byzantine liturgy puts it) is beyond the pale.

- Christian zionism which has not only had horrendous political and ethical consequences but which directly contradicts the Christian convinction that there is "neither Jew nor Greek" and that "our God has no favourites".

- the new emphasis on nuptuality in certain Catholic theologians, notably the previous and present pope, which not only foregrounds sexual difference but inscribes it into the whole theological project imputing gender to God, ascribing theological signicficance to the maleness of Christ and viewing gender difference as ontological. As Fergus Kerr has recently argued (thanks for the reference to the book Ben!) this is a drastic departure from the tradition. It is also very problematic from a feminist perspective for, in the words of Gregory of Nazianzus, "what is unassumed is unhealed".

Anonymous said...

Got to go with:

#1 Double Predestination
#2 Sola Scriptura
#3 Sola Fide


Regards,
John

Bruce Yabsley said...

What if the idea that a doctrine you don't like is a "theological invention", is itself a theological invention ... moreover a bad one?

Seriously guys: personal hate-lists? The label on this post is "humour", not "competitive tendentiousness". Or is there a running joke here that my poor little literal-minded brain is missing?

Anthony said...

It was enough to make me check my (1994 edn) copy of Smail, and my footnote has "Spirit, cf. Barth" - so it's easy to see how it might have happened.

My nomination: big words.

PurplePig said...

I second (third, fourth?) the nomination of double predestination as the worst theological invention.

But I agree with many of the others too, such as the rapture, biblical inerrancy, papal infallibility, just war theory.

Aliocha, I belive pacifism is more compatible with the teachings and example of Christ.

PurplePig said...

(I don't mean I agree with doctrines such as the rapture; I mean I agree that they are bad theological inventions.)

rachel said...

"Accepting Jesus into your heart" with the "sinner's prayer."

james gilbert said...

My vote is for the underpants on the pathway doctrine, (clearly pre-tribulation reference, or is it a post-trib, no wait... I'm not sure)

In Bible school, the whole class was confused with pre-trib, pos -trib,and the multi-trib rapture confusion. The gang in the back decided we were "pan-tribs", whenever Christ comes were out of here!

Thus I vote with the Rapture group...
though the "King James Version" as being Inspired, inerrant is ridiculous.

I do not think that "biblical criticism" is especially humorous or silly, tends to be more full of itself or arrogant...

Danny said...

I'm with Anthony...my nomination is also big words...it is impossible to 'do' theology without the aid of dictionaries (how on earth did people manage before Google)for all those crazy theological words (half the time I'm looking at them thinking - 'you cannot be serious... thats really a word!!)

A deacon, by the grace of God, said...

Aliocha--from a philosophical perspective, I think your questions about just war doctrine are pertinent. But from where I sit, the doctrine just isn't compatible with the teachings of Jesus or the overall direction of scripture's account of God's revelation to humans. So I just can't see it as a *genuine* theological truth. Instead, it strikes me (and there's nothing original in this assertion) as an expediency--a theological invention.

byron said...

My vote: blog theologising.

My serious vote: The denial of the resurrection.

(Other contenders: USA as redeemer nation; Christian Zionism; heaven-when-you-die; Arianism; Pelagianism; Modalism; prosperity gospel; atheism - actually, some forms of atheism have a lot to offer...)

Halden said...

Christendom/Constantinianism.

Chris Enstad said...

My nominees:
1. That the Christian Church is founded on the person of Peter rather than his confession of faith.
2. The phrase "we have to live into this together". Not sure what the big-word name for that concept is.
3. The Purpose Driven anything (I guess Discipline Driven Life doesn't sell)
4. Ancient/Future Church
5. the post-modern movement

erin said...

Lots of good ones here. Particularly fond of the Rapture.
Some other offerings:

The seminary system - largely irrelevant, not necessarily helpful, too damn expensive. Ignore the people you love for Jesus!

Theologians - the post 2 before this one(?) is scary. "I love God but I don't love you, is a bit of a problem," but that may because of my epistemological commitments in a post-Kantian hypermodernist paradigm. :P

The word, "Paradigm": maybe we didn't invent it. Still, enough is enough.

The harmonized Gospel.

Evangelism as technique.

Natural Law: I'd write more here, but I'm off to mate with several different people and fight those who threaten me.

Anonymous said...

Typo:

Theologians - the post 2 before this one(?) is scary. "I love God but I don't love you", is a bit of a problem. But that may because of my epistemological commitments in a post-Kantian hypermodernist paradigm. :P

Dharmashaiva said...

Premillennialism

JAG said...

Original Sin, the expulsion from Eden as a "Fall," and infant baptism.

Curious Presbyterian said...

1) Congregationalism

2) Christian Zionism

3) King James Onlyism

Curious Presbyterian said...

I nearly forgot:

4) Reconstructionism

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I have to go with Halden that the worst is the concept of "Christendom," Constantinian church-state arrangements. This turning of the church into the chaplain of the empire (and later, the nation-state) is the source of many of the later poisons such as Just War Theory (replacing biblical pacifism), Christian nationalism, "Christian Zionism," America as "Redeemer Nation" (which followed a similar self-view by Britain and a similar self-view by apartheid-era South Africa), etc. I even think that the spiritualizing of salvation (reduced to heaven when you die), penal substitutionary atonement (in place of the older Christus Victor approach), "rapture," etc. can probably be traced back to the Christendom error. So, that's my first place pick.

David Shedden said...

Why is everyone so coy and restrained?

1. Heaven
2. Hell
3. The Virgin Birth (does no-one read Pannenberg anymore?)
4. Everlasting life, or immortality of the soul.
5. Last Judgment

Aric Clark said...

Let us not forget Supercessionism.

Though I think I've been swayed toward Christendom as being the worst of many many bad theological inventions, mostly because it is the purest most direct contradiction of the gospel of all.

michael jensen said...

OK: I would add, painting Christendom as a denial of the gospel...

There is some very broad-brush history going on here!

Don't blame Christendom for America!

Also, using trinitarian ontology to prove almost anything: now that is a vice.

Theoblogian said...

i like christendom/constantinianism and just war theory for number one, but i have to say that for me it's:

the personal and informal prayer of 20th/21st century evangelicalism (see chris tilling's hilarious post over at chrisendom) "father, we just really want to, you know, love you..."

maybe that falls more to liturgical invention, but it's become the norm theologically in most places, so if it doesn't fit here, i hereby nominate it for the last contest. :)

Jon said...

It is a proper quote Ben!

*humph*

Why does no one believe me?

Worst theological invention number two:

Ben Myers doctrine of Jon Mackenzie's fallibility!

Eugene McKinnon said...

How many of you actually study theology? I know Kim does, but most of these things such as the Virgin Birth, Heaven, Hell, and Predestination, and Salvation are important tenets of the faith. Before you suggest them as the worst theological innovation I suggest you back it up.

As for me and my house. The worst theological invention was rejected a long time ago and prevented many people from living hopeless lives. Arianism. The belief that Jesus was created, which would have made him a fallen being incapable of saving humanity. The best book on it is The Incarnation by Athanasius.

Neil said...

I think that the very worst theological invention comes from the learned Jesuit historian Jean Hardouin. Let me quote Owen Chadwick's From Bossuet to Newman:

"In a work of 1693 he hinted; in a work of 1709 he affirmed; in posthumous works of 1729 and 1733 he shouted - a bewildering but simple thesis. Apart from the scriptures - that is the Latin scriptures - and six classical authors, all the writers of antiquity, profane or ecclesiastical, were forged by a group of writers in the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries. This group of forgers he never defined or discussed, but always referred to them generically as 'the impious crew', 'maudite cabale'."

crisostomo said...

A deacon, by the grace of God, writes: "[F]rom where I sit, the [just war] doctrine just isn't compatible with the teachings of Jesus or the overall direction of scripture's account of God's revelation to humans."

Scripture, alas, is not infallible.

And in any case it was never intended to be a textbook for statecraft or politics.

Ben Myers said...

Don't worry, Eugene -- David Shedden was just kidding when he nominated "Heaven, Hell, Virgin Birth, Everlasting Life, Last Judgment." (And yes, he studies theology: I met him recently at Princeton!)

Anonymous said...

Male headship.

Anonymous said...

I nominate biblical inerrancy, complimentarianism and the Rapture.

Inerrancy and complimentarianism has caused a too many sincere people grief. The Rapture scared the daylights out of me as a kid.
But then again,that was the point wasn't it?

Scared obedient unquestioning kids grow up to be scared obedient unquestioning church supporter.

Bene D

scared said...

I agree - when i was a kid, the rapture scared the bejesus out of me too.

John said...

the rapture
sacerdotalism - in its medevil sense
complementarinanism

those would be my top three...

Michael J. Pailthorpe said...

papal infallibility
biblical literalism
prosperity gospel
faith movement


(Off the top of my head and no specific order)

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Michael Jenson, I will hold Christendom accountable not just for the churches' support of American imperialism (and British imperialism before that), but for the Inquisition, witchburnings, for the German churches' silence in the face of the Holocaust and much else. Once one fuses church and state, one loses the prophetic voice of the church--it becomes the chaplain for empire. And more ills come from that than any other heresies I can name.

Since no representative of Eastern Christianity seems to be reading this blog, I will also say that the filoque is a strong runner-up in bad inventions.

Dr.Dawg said...

I have purposely not read the comments so I can come to this innocent, as it were.

I would have to nominate, in order, the following:

1) Mary's whole-body assumption
2) Papal infallibility
3) Bodily resurrection
4) Hell

Ann said...

Most recently….
1. Attended a protestant service where at unpredictable points in the service someone in the back was blowing a SHOFAR (ram’s horn) borrowed from Jewish liturgy…..I think we should show respect of traditions and not indescriminately ‘borrow’ whatever we like….

2. Welcome those around you by introducing yourself and saying ‘Hello’ or whatever….

3. The invitation to ‘ad hoc’ witnessing of events or anything the person feels like talking about in some Protestant services…..

4. People yelling ‘AMEN’ or ‘PREACH IT BROTHER’

5. Charismatic ‘deliverance’ services (I don’t know if this even qualifies as a liturgical invention)

6. Liturgical dance (I know of a story of a Bishop, who was forced to watch such a display, and he told the parish priest ‘If she asks for your head, she’s got it..)

7. The rapture, and all other interpretations of the book of Revelations….the worst I head lately is that ‘The Beast is an idea of what Satan wants us to believe God is like’.

8. Tacky art/no icons…..

Looney said...

The Doctrine of Errancy, which basically states that the Bible is replete with errors, inaccuracies and things that ordinary people are doomed to misunderstand. Fortunately, if you have a Ph.D. in Theology and a modernist outlook, then you are competent to clear all this up and lead the sheep.

james gilbert said...

michael- I believe it is spelled -filioque. Christendom might be better rendered - Christendumb.

Curious Presbyterian said...

5) Jack Chick comics

Anonymous said...

Door-to-door evangelism.

Jonathan said...

"Drop-in" come-and-go Christmas Eve Communion Services.

::aaron g:: said...

“Jesus is my personal saviour.”

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

My votes go to:

male priesthood
double predestination
divine impassibility
biblical inerrancy

Karl Barth said...

Let's skip with the nominations and choose the analogia entis.

JBH said...

The premil dispen. idea that in the 1000 year millenial kingdom, there will be Christians with earthly bodies and Christians with resurrected bodies reigning at once.

JBH said...

Let me add Mary's "Queenly Coronation."

Aric Clark said...

I can see that, as usual, no one has any trouble thinking of the things they don't like.

I wonder if we would all be so prompt and pithy if the contest were to determine the best theological invention.

Anonymous said...

The 'intermediate state' of disembodied existence after death - i.e., Jesus came to turn us into ghosts.

jbh said...

I think we should be careful nominating certain things for "worst theological idea" that are at least nominally in scripture. "Predestine" and alternate forms are found five times. Scripture says the "husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church." Now you may believe that headship is not applicable today, but it once was. And Paul clearly taught it. So, anything that Paul teaches should probably not be subsumed under "worst theological idea."

Deep Furrows said...

What a hodgepodge! Lots of liturgical inventions here and ethical theory like just war is really not a matter so much of theology as it is of political philosophy ... As for the Constantinian state, well, which one? That is, reading H. Rahner's Church and State has seriously complicated the way I look at the relations between Christ and Caesar.

I'm amused as ever at those "heresies" which are so-called because they violate modern dogma like egalitarianism and the denial of gender.

If we're going for worst theological invention, I think that Arianism has to be right up there. How many Christians live as if the Word became flesh and dwells among us? Like Constantine and his heirs, modern Christians have their Arian leanings (Monophysitism has no shortage of sympathizers today also).

Fred

Ben Myers said...

Hi JBH -- I see your point here, but I think it's important to distinguish between the biblical texts and the doctrinal constructions that "use" those texts. After all, every bad theological idea is still "based on the Bible". In fact, the worst theologies (e.g. Arianism) and most bizarre theologies (e.g. rapture) are usually the most biblicist of all!

Looney said...

Of course, the "worst theological invention" and the "best theological invention" might be identical. Any "theological invention" by man outside of God's revelation is automatically problematic.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm it seems my nomination for Islam is not appearing/has been deleted. OK then, I nominate sola cultura coined by Peter C. at 4/23/2007 2:55:41 PM here.

js

Anonymous said...

Demonology - especially the kind in Frank Peretti novels.

nukediver said...

Without a doubt, the Rapture, followed closely by double predestination. And whoever came up with the phrase "The Rapture" was undoubtedly thinking ahead to how great a title it would be for a movie, starring Kirk Cameron...oh wait, didn't he already do that?

Martin Kemp said...

Blogs.

Brianna & Dustin said...

I think virtually every vote here can be summed in three names: Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, and George W.

They're my vote.

Jonathan Keith said...

Augustine's assertion that time is created and God resides in a timeless eternity is either a profound insight or a disastrous invention. Either way, assenting to it has far-reaching implications for the way we conceive of God, Creation and ourselves. For one thing, it provides the context within which a whole bunch of theological positions are framed, including positions on predestination, determinism, free will, and the purpose of prayer. More fundamentally, it deepens the conceptual divide between the natural and the supernatural, and
between body and spirit, since all that is natural or embodied is inherently temporal. It necessitates concluding that God is formless and static. That conclusion may well be correct, but perhaps it's worth noting that these are not characteristics of God that we would have deduced by contemplation of our dynamic, embodied Christ.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree with Jonathan: "timeless eternity" has gotta be among the worst inventions.

David Mackinder said...

tempted to say 'orthodoxy'; but, more seriously, I'll nominate prosperity theology

Anonymous said...

The use of maps, charts and other diagrams for biblical/theological instruction. No subject is so interesting that it can't be ruined by a good chart.

byron said...

Wow, this discussion has really kicked on since I last looked! A few thoughts:

Anon, nominating Islam is a bold and insightful move.

Jag - I'd love to know what you mean by this: the expulsion from Eden as a "Fall"

I really appreciated Jonathan Keith's comment about Augustine and timeless eternity.

On the Christendom issue - it seems this term is used in very different ways. I do not think that it necessarily involves the 'fusing' of church and state, nor losing the prophetic voice of the church (though it can lead to these, but they are not essential to it). Isn't the heart of Christendom that the rulers of the nations submit to Christ? At the very least, we need some clarity over which Christendom we are discussing.

And good to see (the Spirit of) Barth still alive and kicking!

byron said...

Oh, I also found Fred's comment quite illuminating.

R.O. Flyer said...

I nominate the belief in Christianity as a private option.

metalepsis said...

The chimera of single meaning in a text.

Matthew said...

Since you asked for theological inventions, I think I'll vote for "the penis of God".

Also, German.

The Angry Theologian said...

Worst theological invention: Stanley Hauerwas.

Although whether anything he has written should be considered theological is an open question

Anonymous said...

prosperity theology!

Macrina said...

I had assumed that this was about Christian theology. But, even assuming a broader context, how can "Islam" be a theological invention? A particular Islamic doctrine perhaps - in which case, please specify - just like particular Christian, Buddhist, Jewish etc doctrines, but to nominate an entire religion as a theological invention just sounds like a dangerous clash of civilisations discourse.

Owen Weddle said...

Any idea that I disagree with....

More seriously, the doctrines of Calvinism.. More especially the perseverance of the saints and limited atonement.

Original sin is up there on the list in my opinion also.

David said...

I nominate the invention that biblical inerrancy is an invention

A deacon, by the grace of God, said...

Crisostomo--

Talk about covering your bases! Either the Bible ISN'T infallible (and so we needn't take literally Christ's message of peace) or, if the Bible IS infallible, taking Christ's teachings about peace and nonviolence illegitimately turns it into a "textbook of politics." Hmmm... Wonder if anybody else sees this as a false dichotomy... So I offer another candidate for worst theological inventions: false dichotomies.

Curious Presbyterian said...

I'm surprised that congregationalism hasn't been more prominent in the discussion. And Christian Reconstructionism.

PamBG said...

So many good answers, but if you're taking a vote:


Just War theory
Double predestination
Racial segregation as God's will
Male Headship
Penal Substitionary Atonement
Augustinian Original Sin and all concepts of sinful human nature rooted in sex and sexuality.
Rapture
Blab-it-and-Grab-it
Biblical / Papal / ecclesial infallibility

Pastor Astor said...

In the sweish missionchurch (covenant church?) we have a fantastic schism that is known as "the great battle on reconciliation"... I think that speaks volumes...

Anonymous said...

Augustine's doctrine of original sin, with resulting ideas about infants.

Jim said...

dilettantes.

CJW said...

All of the answers so far have given me a good chuckle, and a few almost make me cry. Best response so far would have to be "the penis of God" from Matthew. (Also the false distinction between egalitarianism and hierarchialism). My own 2c worth: separating the kingdom of God from 'the gospel'; discipleship from evanglism; good works from good news; spiriutality from creativity - dualism.

Joey said...

Inerrant authograph
Dispensationalism
Lucifer as Satan

Hmmm... this is my third attempt to post a comment here, i hope this one will get through.

Steve Hayes said...

I would say penal substitution, because it changed the theiological mindset of the West, and prevented the healing of the great schism by making it more difficult for East and West to understand one another.

Someone mentioned "just war". I don't think so.

I don't accept the idea of the just war, or the thinking behind it (the same legalism that lies behind penal substitution), but kif it were applied, the world might be a better place, and three wars of the last decade would not have happened: the Nato attack on Yugoslavia, and the US-led attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. None of these met the criteria for a just war, and the world would have been better off without them.

So however theologically flawed the concept of the "just war" is, if it were applied, it would reduce war.

Alexis Tančibok said...

Ok First - these nominations are amazing - I've been scanning through the list saying "yes" to nearly all of them.

I don't think I've seen this one:

"inclusive" language

I think it is one of the more destructive inventions of recent times because not only does it create a false comfort zone (i.e. so people don't actually have to DO anything to BE inclusive) it often creates the most ridiculous, hysterically funny, even heretical images and concepts. In short - "inclusive" language is anything but - indeed I would argue it is very exclusive in the end.

Anonymous said...

I know that this is more of a methodology issue, but it has always bugged me when: 21st century Westerners read a 1st century Eastern text like it was one and the same. So i guess biblical literalism.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet:

theodicy

Anonymous said...

i got another one: Pet scriptures. Using only a few favorite scriptures over and over again to beat your criticisms based on other texts down.

We all can find a few prooftexts, and repeat them over and over again, but come one people, lets quit being so lazy!

Anonymous said...

Punting to mystery to protect your view.

Macrina said...

I agree with Steve Hayes about the just war theory. I am uncertain about whether military force can ever be justified, but there are certainly situations in which it is less justified than others. I grew up in apartheid South Africa in which my white male contemporaries were conscripted into the army. In this context the just war theory provided a tool which helped some of them to see that the war that they were expected to fight was an unjust war. Ironically, those who were conscientious objectors based on just war principles paid a higher price (six years in prison) than those who were universal pacifists (six years community service).

Macrina said...

It is now too late, but I realised this morning that I'd forgotten to mention the split between theology and spirituality that occured sometime towards the end of the Middle Ages, the details of which I'm insufficiently clued up on to comment on. I'm surprised that nobody else mentioned it.

Anonymous said...

This is also quite late, but I think that this might qualify for being a terrible theological ideal: "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

Anonymous said...

How painfully simple: the worst theological invention, especially of late, is the theological BLOG.

The Rev'd R Langford Jr, FAPC, ret. said...

Again, a delightful poll! Whoever it was got the idea that those early pastors\bishops were trying to invent a 'canon' for the scripture surely made the most terrible error theologically. Honestly, the Holy One's utterances once the canon was closed are not so trustworthy as those earlier remarks? Whuff! Whuff! Bow-wow!

Anonymous said...

Open Theism. Thank you.

desertflower said...

the "closed canon" and the Nicene Creed

Thank-you

Craig Bennett said...

The winner would have to be the cessationist doctrine...Father, Son and Holy Bible.

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