Women & Theology: The Importance of Being Wrong
I have never liked being wrong. However, I have reason to be thankful for multiple experiences of being blindingly, flamboyantly, and gloriously mistaken. I was raised in a devout Christian home where we were trained to be students of God’s Word and defenders of the truth. So, when I got to college and discovered that there were Christians who believed different things, I went into attack mode. I knew they couldn’t possibly be right, and it was my job to get them to see the light. For four long, conflict-filled years, I fought valiantly for my cause, only to have to admit defeat in the end. God finally helped me to lay down the weapons and soak in the remarkable truths which I have come to know as “The Doctrines of Grace.”
I know that theology matters because for me there is a before and after. I know what it felt like to live out of incorrect doctrine, and I know what an enormous difference truth has made. Before I understood election, I was proud of the fact that I believed in Jesus and chose to follow him. I witnessed energetically to high school classmates and made many enemies. Election melted my prideful heart and showed me that my faith was a gift from God and nothing I could be proud of. I had been wrong! I began to see that I had nothing to give to God and would never have chosen him had he not chosen me. The doctrine of election made me a more gentle, loving, and humble person, still eager to speak of the gospel, but joyfully confident that only God can give life to dead souls, and that he will always have his way. What a joy it was to discover that God had not placed the intolerable burden of anyone’s eternal welfare on my young shoulders!
Waking up from my former hazy dream of belligerent certainty was an incredibly valuable experience. It showed me that I am prone to being wrong and being sure I’m right. Whether we put this under the category of total depravity or spiritual blindness, if I was wrong once, I can be wrong again. I am prone to self-deception, particularly about myself, and this particular truth must inform every conversation I engage in, everything I say, and all that I write. Our fallen human tendency to be wrong, even as Christians, is thus an important theological doctrine, one that every theologian should consider daily. Although I am a new creation, I am still a deeply flawed and sinful person who habitually twists information which I receive and transmit to my own benefit. This truth should cause me to tread lightly as I make my way through life. I can be wrong; I can crush people with my overconfidence and self-assurance; therefore, I need to navigate gently through the lives and hearts of others, knowing that I desperately need the insight and wisdom of others, even those whom I am tempted to write off as obviously “wrong.”
This is just one example of how theology informs every minute of my day in every corner of life. From parenting, to driving down the road, to grocery shopping, to writing the liturgy for our worship services and training Bible study leaders, all of my actions inevitably flow out of what I believe about God and about myself. Studying God’s Word and enjoying him therefore changes the landscape of my life and affects every relationship and every decision, as I gradually grow towards maturity through an increasingly firm grasp on the truth.
Barb Duguid is the wife of Iain Duguid who taught Old Testament at WSC for 10 years. She is the mother of 6 adult kids who pine for the days when WSC was their backyard and playground. Barb and Iain have planted their third church in Grove City, PA, where Iain teaches on the faculty of Grove City College and pastors Christ Presbyterian Church (ARP). Barb works as a counselor on staff at the church, writes the weekly liturgy for worship services, and trains women to teach Bible studies. Barb has recently published her first book, Extravagant Grace: God's Glory Displayed in Our Weakness, and is currently working on other writing projects.
This post continues our Wednesday series on Women & Theology. Come back next week for a review of Barb Duguid's book, Extravagant Grace!