Do you know God’s Word and Christian doctrine well enough to recognize when something taught or said is incorrect? I truly believe the Lord expects us, as believers, to continue in study until we meet our Maker. Womenary is a great way to do that. I began taking Womenary Classes in 2011. Systematic Theology was my first class—think BIG textbook, lots of BIG words, and BIG thoughts about God. But I loved it, and have continued Womenary classes each semester since.
A few weeks into my first course, the Professor warned the students of one of the side effects of learning to think and filter the world through correct biblical theology—theological errors would begin to jump out at us. This has proven to be very interesting. A few beloved Christian books and worship songs have been forever spoiled for me. I don't like that really; but I don't want to use those songs to sing incorrect praise to the Lord, believe something that is not true, or recommend the books to others.
Well-meaning Christian friends, singers, songwriters, filmmakers, or writers who have an untrue assumption about God, or an incorrect message or interpretation are, unfortunately, out there. I'm not speaking of traditional, denominational, or even individual differing interpretations of Scripture. I'm talking about undeniable, unbiblical mess-ups! I don’t think it’s done intentionally; but it is regrettable, to say the least. For example, someone believes people die and become angels, and then writes a song about that belief. This is called “Folklore Theology”, and we should look out for its influence. There will always be incorrect theology lurking. It is our individual responsibility to know enough to recognize it before we believe it.
The danger is that we pick up sayings and beliefs from our culture, media, and each other, and then internalize them as doctrine. My favorite example of folklore theology is this: “The Lord will not give you more than you can bear.” It presumably stems from a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV: he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. (underline added)
The problem with this belief is that the Lord never said, taught, or inferred it. In fact, He said quite the opposite! In Matthew 24:9, Jesus told His disciples they might die for His sake: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake" (NKJV). And directly before His arrest He said, "yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service" (John 16:2, NKJV).
Look at what the apostle Paul had to say about personal suffering: For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself (2 Corinthians 1:8, ESV). (See also the writings of others—Psalm 46:1-3, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6)
I don't know about you, but that all sounds like "more than I can bear"! He “despaired of life itself.” What about people who are martyred for their faith? What about every believer since the dawn of creation who has died a slow painful death? What about believers today with cancer and other painfully incurable diseases? Certainly that kind of life or death has to be "more than we can bear”.
While "not giving me more than I can bear" sounds good, it's just not true of God, and it is not biblical. The truth is that the Lord does not spare His believers from suffering. He has not promised to spare His followers from anything, except Hell. He has promised to be with us when the suffering occurs, to give us His strength, to give us hope in Him: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). He has promised that nothing can separate us from Him: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35, NKJV). Rather, He has told us there will be tribulation and pain. He can spare us if He wishes, but that isn't the promise.
The longer I study this topic and have personal experience with it, the more and more I have learned that God has very different definitions of healing, safety, peace, and comfort than we do. His plan is to bring us to Him, and make us more like Him. If He chooses to do this through pain, suffering, or even death, so be it. It just might be that healing, safety, peace, and comfort are fulfilled in eternity with Him, not here on earth.
Everyone, believer or not, will have tribulation and pain. Everyone. I choose to go through my trial and pain with the God who loves me, with the God who saved me, with the God who will use my tribulation for good, with the God who is making me more like Him through what He has willed for my life. Eventually I will be able to comfort those in any trouble with the comfort (I myself) have received (2 Corinthians 1:4, NIV). In the end, after all the sufferings of this life, truth will prevail. As His believers, so will we.
All believers have an obligation to study and learn true and correct Christian theology—especially if you are going to proclaim, write, sing, teach, or create anything and call it “Christian”. Dig deep; keep learning about God, what is true about Him. Knowing what is true about God is our individual responsibility as believers. If we don't seek out what is true, we are at risk of believing what isn't.