Theology Sniff Test

Our family just got back from a month long trip to the U.S. While unpacking, I wanted some milk, but wasn’t sure if it had gone bad. An opened carton of milk left for a month in the refrigerator sounds dodgy.

Since our home doesn’t have a CSI laboratory (yet), I gave it the most basic and accurate test. I sniffed it. Since it smelled fine, I drank it. And since my insides have not revolted in protest, I must conclude it was fine.

Sniffing milk helps you know if it’s still good or if it’s gone bad. Theology is the same way. You might not have a Master of Divinity, but you can give it a sniff test to see if it’s gone bad.


Here are some sniff tests. You know your theology has gone bad if:

  • It gives you an excuse to discriminate, exclude, and maltreat certain groups in society.
  • You’re teaching something that causes people to disrespect God-given authority in their lives.

  • It gives you an excuse to stay offended or unforgiving.

  • It gives you justification to control or manipulate someone else.
  • It gives you a reason to not share the Gospel.

  • It causes you to take pride in your own works or your own intelligence.

  • It leads you to justify sin and sinful patterns in your life.

  • It produces laziness and negligence.

  • It promises security and prosperity without mentioning the suffering and adversity that come with our faith.

  • It gets you busy with church life and religious works, without a living relationship with Jesus.
  • It makes you afraid or reluctant to call out sin that’s around you.

  • It causes divisiveness in the family of God, the church.

I’m sure there are others. The point is true theology (the study of God) should result in a changed life!

Purely academic and intellectual theology is stale and lifeless. Don’t drink bad theology! When someone offers you something, check the person’s life first.

Read your Bible, walk in Christian fellowship, worship God and you’ll see real theology lived out!


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