When Bad Things Happen to Gullible People

There are all kinds of gullible people in the world, but few realize that we can be gullible for bad theology. It seeps into our minds, lodges itself into conventional wisdom, and promptly pushes us off course if we take it too seriously. Bad theology takes many forms, but it often entails attributing the wrong things to God or believing the wrong doctrines related to God.

One example of bad theology is a black and white, clear cut classification of prosperity as blessing and misfortune as judgment. John 9:1-3 tells the story of a blind man whom the apostles assume was guilty of some sin. Why else would someone suffer from blindness?

Jesus doesn’t just answer their question; he sets up a whole new system. “‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’”

That doesn’t quite give us the answer we want. “Oops, my mistake. That should never have happened in the first place,” probably sounds better to our ears. But in the very least Jesus reveals that blessings and curses are far more complex than we could have ever imagined.

It’s enough to say that this world is fallen and broken, but God is working to bring healing and provide solutions, albeit never quite fast or thorough enough from where we sit.

Nevertheless, we are gullible to bad theology if we fall into the “prosperity equals blessing” trap and will ruin our lives trying to live good lives in order to keep ourselves from falling into misfortune. The same is true if we afflict ourselves with guilt whenever life takes a rough turn. Tragedy is woven into our world, and only makes a new creation under the rule of God look better and better.