A few traits characterize the theologians, pastors, and students I know who have walked away from their faith.
They “loved human praise more than praise from God” (John 12:43). They often seemed more concerned about being open-minded than having their minds renewed (Rom 12:2). They often flexed their scholarly muscles in study but were lethargic in ministering to the church or the needs of others. Their lifestyles showed patterns of sinful decadence rather than the pursuit of holiness, and their love for God grew cold (Matt 24:12).
Worst of all, they seemed bored by the gospel. The cross of Christ no longer seemed to stir their affections.
The academic pursuit of biblical and theological knowledge, while noble if pursued with the right motives, is no substitute for a personal and intimate knowledge of God achieved through prayer, devotion to his Word, and obedience.
We can pervert the wonderful thing God has given us in theology when we worship a field of study instead of the One about whom it speaks. For this reason, the apostle Paul warned about people who are zealous for God without knowledge (Rom 10:2). Paul likewise told his disciple Timothy to “watch YOUR LIFE and doctrine closely” (1 Tim 4:16).