Banner: Blog

Theological Arrogance: The Path to Heresy

Adapted and excerpted from Elliot Grudem’s Orlando Boot Camp message, “Why Arrogance Has No Place in Reformed Theology.”

When your study of theology grows your head and hardens your heart, you find yourself on a path of theological arrogance that won’t lead to greater theological precision – it will lead to heresy.

Reformed soteriology, rightly understood and applied in your life, should promote humility, not arrogance.

But if you look at church history, you know that even some of our greatest churchmen have wandered off into some pretty weird beliefs. And just their example should honestly sober you up.

Bible-Loving Theologians Defending Slavery and Segregation?

It isn’t just the liberal Germans. It’s men like Thornwell and Dabney who got the issue of slavery and segregation dead wrong.

And Warfield said this was because they allowed their distate for men of other races to take precedent over what was the fundamental law of the church: in Christ there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, slave or freeman.

And it’s not just Dabney and Thornwell and their generation. It’s even men like Morton Smith who was one of the founders of RTS and one of the founders of the PCA. He got the issue of segregation dead wrong in the sixties and seventies when he argued that churches in the South should do what they could to maintain the racial status quo and do what they could to fight integration.  

Here’s What Should Sober You Up: These Were Men Who Knew Their Theology.

They knew their Bible. They claimed to love Jesus and I believe they did. But they allowed that arrogant thought that permitted them to think themselves, because of their race, superior to another. They allowed that to take precedence in living their lives, they ignored the pursuit of holiness and instead replaced it with arrogance – and so they wound up walking down a path that allowed them to fight for and argue for things that are contrary to the Scriptures.

The fact of the matter is that we’re talking about our fathers here, right? There are many of our fathers who got the racial issue wrong.

A Real Grasp on the Doctrines of Grace Brings Love for Christ and Humility.

What’s the issue that we’ll face in the future? The issue you’ll face? I don’t have any idea. But I do know this: a real grasp of these doctrines of grace should produce a love for Christ in you that shows itself in humility and a pursuit of holiness – and without those things, whatever issues you face, you’re not going to get them right.

Reformed soteriology, when rightly understood and applied, should produce humility in your life. But not just humility, it should also give you the confidence you need to do the hard work of ministry.

Listen to Elliot’s full talk on the humility and confidence that mark a true Reformed theologian.

Join us for an upcoming Boot Camp! We have our next ones in Nashville (May 26-27) and San Jose (June 3-4) with great speakers including Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, D.A. Carson and Scott Thomas.



Elliot Grudem is the network coordinator for the Acts 29 Network and a pastor at Mars Hill Church. Prior to his work with Acts 29, Elliot served as the senior minister at Christ the King Presbyterian Church, a church he replanted in Raleigh, NC. He has worked for an urban ministry in New Orleans. He worked for a Fortune 100 company prior to seminary. He is the editor of Christian Beliefs, a book he completed with his father Wayne. Elliot holds degrees from Miami Univeristy (BA, History and English) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.).