Monday, March 16, 2009

A Good Reminder on Doctrine

Michael Kelley:

It seems like the study of doctrine in Christian circles is pretty polarizing. There are those churches who major on doctrinal issues, using classic Christian terminology and stressing the importance of knowing these key issues to faith; issues like justification, sanctification, predestination, foreknowledge - you know the drill.

Then there are those churches who would argue that kind of study does little to further real life change in the people. The people need something practical, something that’s going to help them hang onto their marriage, get through the recession, and parent their children. So they lean toward this “application oriented” strategy of teaching and preaching.

I think there’s a balance in the middle to be found, where one feeds the other and vice versa, but I also see how a group of people might find the study of doctrine antiquated, boring, and useless.

And it’s because of the classic abuse of doctrine.

We have the tendency to use doctrine as nothing more than an arguing tool. We use it to be “right” in conversations, as a mark of spiritual superiority, or as a means of furthering our own arrogance which is already considerable enough.

In short, the fact that doctrine is falling out of favor in a lot of circles is because in a lot of circles doctrine has been abused.

It’s not supposed to be like that. Paul reminded Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5 that “the goal of our instruction is love…”

Love. That’s the end of doctrine. Anything else is abusive.

I would add that oftentimes we just assume that if we simply stuff peoples heads with enough of the right information, we'll all be ok. This seems good at face value, but then again as my seminary professor, Dr. Michael Williams said one day, "The demons all got A's in seminary". Our call is never less than imparting the right information about God, but entails much more as well.


Christopher Lake said...

Michael's basic point here has much validity. Throughout history, doctrine often has been, and still is, abused in many churches. Too often, Christians do not show the love that Biblical doctrine should inspire. Too often, I have been guilty in this way. For this reason, some Christians shy away from "doctrine" or even claim to dislike it.

However, there are also many people who use the word "doctrine" in a negative sense simply because they want to believe in the God in whom *they* want to believe, i.e. not the God of the Bible but the God of their imaginations, without all of the Biblical "baggage." This can be (not always, but sometimes) a danger when one hears people say things like, "I don't care about 'doctrine'-- just give me Jesus."

However, it is important to ask questions to find out-- which Jesus do they want? The one of the Bible, or another one (a false Jesus)?

One thing is certain-- whichever Jesus people do want, everyone ultimately holds to some sort of "doctrine" about Him. There is no simply is no "Jesus without doctrine." Is the doctrine true or false though?

Michael's main point does still hit home. May Christian doctrine *always* inspire us to sincere, evident love for God and for people!

Christopher Lake said...

Sorry-- I meant to type, "There simply is no 'Jesus without doctrine.'"

Mark and Maki said...

Good post Z- and good comment also, Chris. I am really thinking about these issues in regards to my preaching at our mixed-crowd church in Japan. These were helpful thoughts for me to consider!