What have you changed your theology on?

Title says it all, really. Personally it feels like I’ve grown much warmer towards forms of inerrancy.

I don’t know if I fully accept it, since I struggle with the literal senses of some passages (but accept the other senses of them), nonetheless I now hold that every passage of the Bible is authoritative and God-breathed, and that it’s authority is non-negotiable. Whereas previously I was more loosy-goosy and uneasy.

I think learning how Philo of Alexandria, and the church fathers, the likes of Origen and St Gregory of Nyssa, interpreted the Bible had helped me out a lot here.

Another key theological change here is the recognition that a verse can have meaning beyond its original context, since God, in his omniscience, can anticipate and intends multiple readings. (With some caveats, of course)

What have you changed your mind on, theology wise?


when you say the above, exactly what do you mean…do you have some examples in mind?

For example…

  • The Old Testament Sanctuary Service, although a literal daily event, ultimately pointed to the crucifixion of Christ on the cross as an atonement for sin

  • The earthly sanctuary model given to Moses was based on heavenly sanctuary…ie the earthly is a copy of the heavenly

  • Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2…obviously that was a “vision of things to come” as explained by Daniel to the king when he interpreted the dream.

  • Christ’s statement to Pharisees and Sadducees … “destroy this temple in 3 days and i will rebuild it”…the bible passage also very specifically tells us that “Christ was talking about himself”, not the earthly building (ie the earthly Temple)

I ask this because when it comes to biblical themes generally, the bible does not have multiple meanings that are not directly addressed within scripture itself. Also, the multiple meanings i do not believe would be contradictory…that is not what inerrancy in scripture means…and all Christians must accept that the inspired word of God is inspired because God is controlling exactly how we are to know Him and His wishes for us. If there is errancy, then we are being told lies in the Bible…that is not indicative of a God inspiring anything…that is a God who isnt able to ensure that the narrative describing Him is presenting an accurate model of who God is and what his plan for us will be.

In a nutshell, inerrancy and inspired means trustworthy. Would you genuinely trust with everything you have including your life, someone that tells white lies and half-truths?

  • There are, IMO, three types of changes:

    • One involves, dropping something that I once believed and no longer do.
    • Another involves revising (replacing) what I once believed and deciding to go with another viewpoint.
    • And then there’s a revelation that elevates my understanding of and appreciation for some word or construct that’s always been in my dictionary.
  • E.g.

    • The meaning of and importance, to me, of "Gratitude* has exploded in the past 2 years.
    • My view of “Determinism” and “Free Will” have undergone revision.
    • “Original Sin” is in the Repair Shop.
    • I’m a braver and bolder “Shroudie” [Shroud of Turin Fan]
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Good to see you again. I was wondering where you were in your faith journey just the other day.

Authority and inspiration are non-negotiables for me, as well. Inerrancy? Depends how you define it. I can accept a definition that the Bible is “inerrant” with respect to its purpose, which is salvific (imparting spiritual truth related to salvation, not scientific truth), but anything beyond that is suspect.

What have I changed my mind on? Where do I begin? In my experience, the Christian life is not one of stasis. I’m no longer satisfied with the “evangelical” label, and to be honest, the majority of it isn’t satisfied by me, either. haha. As I put it recently on the twitterverse:

What is a “progressive” Christian? As I said, canonical Christian interpretations of the Hebrew Bible progress from a rudimentary revelation of God to a full revelation in the person of Jesus in the NT. Salvation is both already/not yet. (Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.) The same applies to sanctification, which is both instantaneous yet requires a lifetime of effort to reach “not yet” before the resurrection. Every bit of the Christian life, from first to last, is “progressing” toward the consummation. when Christ is all in all. Stasis is nowhere in scripture or Christianity.

My personal journey: Culture War, Inerrancy, Tolstoy, & the Gospels: A Personal Journey – Becoming Adam, Becoming Christ


The hardest and best decision for me was letting go of an inerrant Bible. For me the Bible is not inerrant in any possible sense of the term. I see it as complete rubbish and some like to change it so much the tent is meaningless. It is more likely the earth is flat than the Bible is free of errors. It serves the purpose for which God intends it and it mediates the Sacred. Its a window we look through to see the Divine on the other side. It also describes God meeting us on our side of the window in the person of Jesus. But it does so through a lot of theological fiction. The end.

Since then very little of my theology is dogmatic. Having rigid theology is something for inerrancy advocates and those with high views of inspiration. Always trying to force-fit passages together as if they must all teach some consistent truth. This is a made up constraint imposed on the text. Every systematic theology uses it and most believers. I see no reason to. Authors in the Bible disagree with one another and correct one another many times. I’d prefer to just let each author stand on his own terms and try to learn how they saw God and suffering in the world.

It would probably be easier to list what I haven’t changed my theology on since dropping inerrancy. And theology, regardless of how “Biblical” someone tells you it is, is just all manmade. Men wrote the Bible, men copied the Bible, the Church chose the Bible, textual scholars try to reconstruct the text, translators try to translate the text and we readers try to interpret it. At every step of the way there are errors and human judgments in the process. There is no escaping this. How you choose to see and quote the Bible is also a man-made belief or opinion. Even if God inspired it we have human links and error all over it. Some people confuse their own beliefs on the nature of the Bible and inspiration with exactly what God says. They assume the Bible is something a serious and objective look at it just does not support.

I also don’t imagine 90% of the world suffering eternal torment in hell like the majority of fundamentalist and evangelical Christians. Dropping that has been a breath of fresh air along with not seeing the, at times, violent and petty god of the OT as reflecting God but accommodated iron-age ideology.

So I’ve come to see the Bible as a book of wisdom to be wrestled with and a window to seeing God, even if dimly lit. Getting facts and doctrine correct is overrated. Loving your neighbor and giving freely to the poor is underrated.


Well, that’s not how early Christians and Jews saw things. St Paul himself deploys an allegorical reading of the Hagar story.

But like I said, there are caveats, how we read the Bible needs to be in accordance with love for God and Neighbour.

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The biggest change in my theology as far as the overall scope of it is probably this, which I don’t think most here accept either.

As I begin to accept that Yahweh accommodated the ancient Jewish people and that was part of what drove how they understood the inspiration of God and begin to see that even the name Yahweh was an accommodation. That is a name that seemed to already exist and they sort of overlapped him with that name. I begin to more deeply believe that God also accommodated other nations in different ways. That perhaps the same supernatural creative force that revealed themselves as Yahweh to the Jews also revealed himself as Vishnu to ancient Indians. Then as I begin to read texts such as the Gita it uses a lot of the same imagery as what is found in Judaism despite having been separated by quite a bit of time and space. Then in Hinduism it mentions that Vishnu will
Reveal himself to other nations and people as different gods.

So I’m now to the point that despite believing in just one god, I believe that one God revealed himself to many nations accommodating them as different gods. I know he often used the hosts of heaven ( angels ) who appeared before us humans and that they also seemed to be spiritual leaders over groups. Like how it says Michael was the prince and fought against the princes of Persia and so on. I think these divine beings we call angels also appeared to men and women around the world in ways that made sense with their culture. So perhaps ancient Indians met what we called angels as many armed beings and so on.

For contradictions I just do the same I do with Judaism. Jesus contradicts Judaism all the time. Eye for and eye was changed with “ turn the other cheek “ and an earthly kingdom was replaced by the body and so on. So when Hinduism contradicts Jesus, I simply view it as when he contradicts Judaism. I believe Christ was the best reflection of this cosmic supernatural being. That he fulfills not just Judaism but also fulfills Hinduism, Shintoism and so on.

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Jay, thank you for pointing to your post. It was helpful and interesting.

I agree entirely with you that the Christian life is not one of stasis. At least mine hasn’t been. Hegel didn’t get everything right, but the basic idea of a dialectic seems elementary. We are always changing.

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Afterward, to the shock of everyone in our small congregation (including my parents), I grabbed my little sister’s hand at the end of a service and said, “Let’s get baptized.”

The pastor made us wait until the next Sunday. The congregation was kinda mad at him, but he did the right thing and visited us at home (my dad was an elder) to make sure we understood what we were doing. At least it gave my parents a chance to have a camera on hand for the occasion the next week. Notice the wide white belt. '70s all the way, baby! haha


Wide, WHITE belt!
Jay! You made my day!!!
Yes, your elder was wise.

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What I’ve had to rethink the most—and what’s given me a lot of angst in the process—has been the role of facts, reason, science, evidence, learning, academia and the like. This is something that I’ve ended up rethinking twice.

The other Christians who I know fall into a pretty wide spectrum. Some of them are well educated and responsible, but others at the other end of the scale are thoroughly anti-intellectual. Some of them take the line that facts are of the devil, that reason is the enemy of faith, that demanding evidence is unbelief, that “secular science” is not to be trusted, that becoming like little children means embracing wilful ignorance, that exams and professional qualifications are sinful and selfish ambition, and that thinking too much stops you from being able to hear God.

After I left university, it was the anti-intellectuals who influenced me the most. This was largely because I’d had a pretty rough time of it as a student: I was in poor physical and mental health for much of my second year and I ended up not doing nearly as well as I had in my first year as a result. When I graduated, I was exhausted, depressed and burnt out, and after a couple of years not having a clue what I was going to do, I ended up working for my father supporting him in his Bible teaching ministry. It was a wonderful, restorative and healing time, but all the struggles I’d had at university left me prey to every anti-intellectual attitude that was knocking around in the church. By the time I reached my late twenties there even came a point at which I started to feel ashamed of my degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University.

Then about six weeks after I turned thirty, my father died of cancer.

Since I had been working for him for the best part of a decade, I now had to figure out what I was going to do with my life and my career. It was at this point that Reality hit me. Having bought into all the anti-intellectualism, I had failed to develop any marketable skills, and in fact some of the anti-intellectual attitudes that I’d adopted were even stopping me from functioning properly in the workplace. Having been commended as a teenager at school for setting myself high standards, I’d now come to a place where I was viewing the high standards for which I had once been commended as sinful.

I ended up spending the next several years having to deconstruct all these anti-intellectual attitudes just to be able to function properly in the workplace and start climbing the career ladder above a minimum wage role. It was a very, very painful process because I kept wondering if I was sinning by doing so. I remember when I first heard about the SMART criteria—the idea that you could and should expect goals and critique to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound was pure revelation, and it made so much sense on a practical level, but at the same time there was something in me that made me wonder if I was tasting the forbidden fruit by thinking so.

As I’ve read the Bible in the years since though—especially Proverbs—I’ve come to realise that setting high standards, thinking clearly, demanding evidence and rigour and all the rest of it, are actually Biblical principles. People who view 1 Corinthians 1 as an anti-intellectual manifesto are misunderstanding and misrepresenting it, and people who dumb things down in the name of “becoming like little children” are not doing what Jesus demanded—on the contrary, they are glorifying wilful ignorance. And if you’re an intellectually-minded type who can’t stop thinking and trying to work everything out, if God wants to speak to you, surely He can use your intellect in order to do so if He really wants to?

That’s why I can get so snarky with bad arguments and falsehoods. When I confront young earthism, it’s not the idea of the earth being six thousand years old itself that gets up my nose; it’s the idea that it’s acceptable or even expected to fudge measurements, cut corners, quote mine, lower your standards or get sloppy and indisciplined in the name of “making science fit Scripture” in order to justify it. My challenge to young earthists is not to stop claiming that the earth is young, but to clean up their act, justify their approach to measurement and mathematics, and start applying the same standards of technical rigour and quality control as everybody else. Because anything that fosters irresponsible, dishonest or denialist attitudes to science, evidence, reason or critical thinking is ultimately going to undermine your ability to do your job, progress in your career, and keep your loved ones safe.


Phew. God was gracious to me in my journey from YEC through OEC to ‘EP’ (not Evangelical Presbyterian ; - ) in that I did not have to endure any trauma in that respect. Even when I explained it to my wife it was painless – I would have loved to have discussed it with her late father, an intelligent and godly man.

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I’ve been spending some time with Wendy Widder’s commentary on Daniel and it looks like it’ll be one of the few books I finish reading this year. It’s been an educational experience for me and one thing that has changed for me theologically is that I can still appreciate apocalyptic literature even if it isn’t exactly specific.

I think we have to first off acknowledge that our peers and influential people form the theology that influences our lives. When we mature spiritually, we tend to expand our perspectives and see things differently. In my case, I felt that I was called to nursing and changed my profession at thirty-eight, which brought many new insights, especially because I was primarily in geriatric care, and we had at least ten deaths a year, sometimes more, and many patients that were very sick for a long time.

It meant that I had to incorporate these experiences into my faith, cope with the increase in empathy, and make ethical decisions with patients and family members, who often needed guidance. I was also working in a Catholic environment, which was different to the protestant church I came from, but my approach was welcomed by the priests, and our talks made sense. I widened my theological perspective and held devotional talks for staff together with a monk, who had a refreshing attitude.

I came to realise that there was a lot more going on in the New Testament texts I had been reading than I had appreciated, and even more in the Old Testament. The friendship with a philologist also shaped the way I looked at the Bible and probably of great importance, I started reading most of the books by Karen Armstrong but also people like Thomas Merton, Laurence Freeman, Thomas Moore, and Anthony de Mello – a large diversity, but with a monastic leaning. Of course, Karen Armstrong and Thomas Moore were no longer monastics, and held a critical light up to the idea of monasticism, but there were aspects that became important.

The historical importance of Constantine and his influence on the canon of the Bible, and the way the church dealt with dissenters, despite Jesus, strictly speaking, being a dissenter, made me “sober up” on the validity of what we had assumed about the Bible. A lecture by Pierre Grimes, showing that the Gospel of Mark followed the classical structure of a Greek tragedy was a new revelation. And if that were not enough, finding that the Old Testament had gone through several thorough phases of redaction, and collated many accounts to be found in surrounding cultures, gave me a new understanding of divine inspiration.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, a conviction finally grew in me, when together with a friend in Florida, we came to the conclusion, that Jesus was a non-dualist in the tradition of the prophets, many of the teachings of Jesus took on a new life, and the Oneness of God was revived in a way that we hadn’t expected. But this also has an effect on the exclusivity of Christianity, but not on the primacy of Jesus as the Christ in the occident. I propose that the orient has a related but different cultural heritage.

So you can see, an enormous amount changed theologically within the last forty years.


I became a preterist. The “great tribulation” is past, not future. There are no modern “signs” that tell us that Jesus is coming back “any day now.”

I’m only a partial preterist, yet I would heartily agree. Personally, I think the best we can get to is saying “Jesus might come back in my lifetime.”

Would you say that a future return of Jesus is something we look for with hope, or would you consider this already fulfilled? Just curious :slight_smile:


This is a great thread, with some great answers already. Here are three that were particularly impactful for me.

  • Ardent Arminian → Confessionally Reformed
  • Hardest of hardline YECs → Evolutionary Creationist
  • disembodied heaven → embodied New Creation

38 posts were split to a new topic: When will Jesus Return?

If the OP implies some sort of U-turn or dramatic change, I would have difficulty offering an example. However, I would say that my Theology is permanently adjusting and changing (I might even say evolving but that might be ironic)


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As we grow, we learn new information and that changes our understanding of the world. Growing as a believer, on the Way, is also a learning process. As we learn more, that changes our theological interpretations. The core of faith may stay the same but in less influential matters the interpretations change. That is at least my experience.

As a ‘baby’ in faith, I accepted anything told convincingly about the correct interpretation of the world and the Bible (or the interpretation that you should just believe what has been written, not interpret :innocent: :roll_eyes:). When I got more information, I realized that everything told by honest believers was not the truth. That made me reject YEC teachings and some other interpretations. When I started to learn a bit more about the biblical sciptures and interpretations, that changed my theology even more. So, very many details in my theology has changed.

I guess a radical change happened when I surrendered to Lord Jesus (‘became a believer’, as some say). That changed my whole worldview and was the start of a new theology.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit was a second life-changing event. After that, the biblical scriptures became alive and I believe He has given me understanding of some, mostly minor open theological questions even directly, while studying the scriptures or praying.

A third major change happened after debating about matters related to baptism with some other believers. After lots of reading, thinking and prayer, I realized that they were more correct than me. It was a very difficult process for me but finally I was baptized and left the church where I had lived in from my birth (Lutheran).

I could list many details where my theology has changed or is under construction. Matters like ‘soul’, ‘hell’, events at the return of Jesus.
One of the latest changes in the way how I interpret biblical scriptures has come through understanding more of the depths related to the expression ‘in Christ’, used a lot by Paul. Even the view to how our salvation is related to the death and resurrection of Jesus changed.

One positive change has happened in my attitudes towards other believers. At the start, I saw all Catholic, Orthodox and members of many other denominations as not truly believers, people that needed to be evangelized, that needed to repent and be born again to be saved. Now I understand better that all believers in different denominations are brothers and sisters, and that believers may have rational reasons to interpret biblical scriptures in another way than I am used to interpret.