Pharmaceutical Theology; Man’s Medicine Chest vs. the Treasure Chest of God’s Word
“By this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature” – Hebrews 5:12-14A
Throughout my ministry, I have been surprised by believers who seem satisfied with their current knowledge of the Bible, and do not seem to want to go deeper in God’s Word. They are familiar with the ministry of Jesus. They enjoy the comfort of the Psalms and the wisdom of Proverbs. They know New Testament teachings like “The Fruit of the Spirit” and “The Armor of God.” They even know a few Old Testament Bible stories they heard as a child in Sunday school. But for the most part, they avoid the passages they view as inapplicable or hard to understand. And they certainly have no interest in learning about doctrine and theology; for that is seen as the responsibility of a pastor. And so they limit their spiritual diet to the familiar and comfortable. By doing so, they miss an endless spread of rich theological truth. It is an approach to the Christian faith that only skims the surface of a vast theological ocean. They drink only the milk of the Word when they ought to be chomping on the Bible’s steak dinners.
The author of Hebrews addresses the contrast between the milk and meat of God’s Word. In our passage above, he lovingly confronts his audience by stressing they should be further along in their spiritual growth. They should be feasting upon the meat of the Word and teaching it to the more recent converts, but they have not matured as they should, and still need the elementary principles of the faith. They are perpetual spiritual infants when they should be growing towards spiritual maturity.
I have come to a conclusion about the type of believer I am describing; their lethargic spiritual growth is not from a lack of ability to learn or retain information. Rather, it is from either a lack of motivation and desire or a paralyzing fear of the unknown (or both). People learn what they want to learn, and remember what they want to remember. This is clearly illustrated by the amount of twenty-first century congregants who can tell you all about Crestor, Avodart, Lyrica, Eliquis, Humira, Chantix, and Celebrex. And without hesitation, they can tell you the purpose of these medications, their suggested dosages, along with any warnings and side effects. Yet many of these same believers shy away from theological words, some of which are easier to pronounce than prescription medications. They avoid words like justification, propitiation, sanctification and expiation. They have no interest in finding out what kinosis means, what hypostatic union refers to, what a theophany is, the purpose of an imprecatory prayer, or the main differences between premillennialism, historical premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism. They know all about “saving grace” but are unfamiliar with the term “common grace.” They are not aware of Dr. John Piper’s plea for Christian Hedonism or Dr. John Macarthur’s argument for Lordship Salvation. The most common excuse given by these milk drinking believers is that theological phrases and terms are over their head and hard for them to understand and retain. But I personally do not buy that excuse. If they can fill their minds up with a whole medicine chest of information, why are they “unable” to retain theological truths and dig deeper into the treasure chest of God’s Word?
Are you holding on to your baby bottle filled with the milk of God’s Word? It might be time for you to trade in your bottle for utensils and sit down at buffet of God’s Word. It is His will for you to be growing daily in your knowledge of His Word. Don’t settle for spiritual stagnation. Instead, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, and do so for His glory (2 Peter 3:18)!
– Pastor Eric