Anybody Want to Rumble Over Doctrine?

doc·trine
ˈdäktrən/
noun
noun: doctrine; plural noun: doctrines
  1. a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.
    “the doctrine of predestination”

It is commonly reported that the great evangelist George Whitfield once had the following conversation with a coal miner in Cornwall, England. The conversation apparently started when the preacher asked the man what he believed about his Faith and The Bible:

“Oh, he said, “I believe what my church believes.”
Whitfield then inquired, “And what does your church believe?”
“Well,” he answered, “The church believes what I believe.”
Seeing that he was getting nowhere, Whitefield then asked, “What do you both believe?”
“We both believe the same thing.”

The question arises: Does doctrine really matter? Ask a range of Christians that question and you will get as many answers as people you ask.

On one side of the spectrum are believers who are totally doctrinally driven. These folks think every single doctrinal point is an essential one and that failure to believe their way, even on the smallest point, renders one either not a Christian, or a substandard one.

On the other hand, there are believers who consider nothing doctrinally important enough to stand by as fast and true. These folks would say, just believe in Jesus, and nothing else matters. Also, what we see in this camp is a growing disdain for doctrine in general as the refuge for those who just don’t believe in Jesus enough.

And, somewhere in the middle we have what is probably the correct view. What, precisely, is the correct view? Well, beats me! I will, however, share just a few of my humble thoughts on the matter. Where do I fall on the issue? Well, the work I am part of has a Doctrinal Statement which is 22 statements long, and I believe every single one of them represents truth as taught in the Bible. Here is a funny thing; even though we have spelled out 22 separate points of doctrine we believe to be essential. there is still room within those 22 points to not agree on everything. Sigh right? Suffice it to say that I believe correct doctrine is very, very important.

So, here we go with my thoughts on this matter. I understand not everybody will agree with all I say here, but that’s okay too.

So, does doctrine really matter that much?

Yes…and…no.

Some doctrines are necessary to even be saved. The Bible is quite clear about the way of salvation. It clearly states that we are all born depraved sinners, and that salvation comes only by God’s grace through our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. It clearly states that to be born again, we must all repent of our sin and have faith in Jesus Christ. It just as clearly states that nothing we can ever do contributes to our salvation; in other words, we cannot and do not work our way into God’s favor and earn our way to Heaven. Understanding that particular Biblical doctrine is absolutely necessary for salvation and rescue from eternal separation from God. If anybody believes anything other than salvation by grace through faith, then he or she is not trusting totally in the Lord Jesus Christ for his or her salvation, and it is very likely that he or she is, in fact, not actually saved.

Some doctrines provide so much support for the Doctrine of Salvation that disbelieving them brings into question the entire plan of redemption. What might these include?

The Genesis account of Creation and the fall of man

The Doctrine of the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit

The Deity of Jesus Christ

The literal, bodily resurrection of jesus Christ

The Bible as the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

As non believers, we will be judged for our lack of belief. Believers, on the other hand, will be evaluated for the content our belief as well. Time and time again, we see direction from God to study, be discerning, and to become wise. The following Scriptures tell us this: Psalm 51:6Psalm 119:66, Proverbs 2:2-6, Proverbs 4:7, Colossians 1:9, Colossians 2:3. Of course, the two following should come immediately to mind:

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Doctrine matters because the people who teach damnable false doctrines are very busy, and very knowledgeable. If we don’t know the truth, we cannot defend our faith against untruth or even protect ourselves from untruth. Simply summed up, some things are true and some things are not true. And many times two things cannot be true at the same time. For instance we teach, and the Bible clearly says, that salvation is 100% by Grace through faith and that no works or effort of our own adds to or completes salvation. Many religions and even “Christian” denominations teach that salvation requires works on our part, or that we have to do certain things to become or remain saved. Obviously, both of these statements cannot be true at the same time! In addition, there are religions out there masquerading as Christian teaching falsehoods about the Nature and person of Jesus Christ. These folks are very busy, and very well versed in their heresies.

If we don’t know the truth, we cannot effectively evangelize the world. Every believer reading this is an evangelist. That role is not restricted to preachers, teachers, pastors or members of the “visitation committee” Every man and woman saved by the Grace of God is responsible to spread the Gospel to the people they touch in the world. That is made clear in Jesus’ final words before He ascended to Heaven. We call it The Great Commission and it is repeated here.

Matthew 28:18-20   And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:   Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The dilemma is clear; if we don’t understand certain doctrinal points, how can we teach the truth of them to a lost and dying world?

So, what about all of the OTHER stuff?

And friends, brothers, and sisters there is TONS of other stuff! There are literally thousands of doctrinal issues which Christians have studied, debated about, and divided over for 2000 years. Does that stuff really matter? Well…yes…and…no. Want to sprinkle rather than immerse? I may say you are wrong, but who cares? Want to speak in tongues? I may say you are wrong, but who cares? Want the ladies to preach? I may say you are wrong, but who cares? Think communion in a church is open to everyone? I may say you are wrong, but who cares?

Does that mean you are lost and I am saved? Does it mean I am lost and you are saved? Of course not! Does it mean that you and I cannot exist peacefully together as Brothers and Sisters in Christ? Of course not! Now, does that mean we are going to start a church or mission work together? Nah, probably not. Am I going to come preach in your pulpit, or  you in mine(I’m not a preacher, so that is just an expression by the way)? Nah, probably not.

Amos told us the following:

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

There are divergent views of many things that are found in God’s Word. We are human, and we are not infallible or all knowing. Many things are not clear as to exact meaning in God’s Word, and our humanity means we will on occasion look at them differently. The essentials seem clear, while the non essentials may not be. We can still live together as Brothers and Sisters In Christ despite these differences.

 



Categories: Christianity

29 replies

  1. Doctrine is important but so is the way we hold it and share it. All tools can be used for good or for evil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pam thank you for saying that. You managed to capture the entire essence of what I was trying to say in one sentence. Bless you for that

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m just another veteran of the doctrinal wars…sigh…:0) You tackled a difficult subject and did a good job of it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • many a good man or woman has been lost to the doctrinal wars.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Hey Patrick. Thanks for reading. Yes, you are correct. It’s tough I suppose, as we want to be doctrinally straight, but the truth is we simply won’t agree on everything, right?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah…my husband says “we shoot our wounded”…doctrine is important but I sure get sick of the bickering. I’ve also, experienced the other extreme where it gets whittled down to so few essentials that there’s nothing left. We need balance.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hey Pam and Patrick.We do need balance. But what is the balance? I will use me as an example. Those things I listed on the bottom of the post? Where I said..who cares? Well, I do care! I had a hard time writing that. I serve and worship with folks who would take me out in the parking lot over stuff like that LOL. I’m one of the folks who thinks doctrine drives the ship. On the other hand, blogging if nothing else has taught me to not be so..um..so LOL. This is a struggle for me and that’s one reason I wrote that, was a letter to myself.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Hey Wally…I don’t know if I have it figured out but I try to stick to the truth without being obnoxious and overbearing. I try to live it more than say it. But I’m not young anymore and maybe, I’m just war weary. Sometime ago, I just got tired of trying to work certain things out and decided I’m better off praying for people and letting God straighten them out. It sort of dawned on me one day that God didn’t need me to fight for Him but just quietly, stand. Then again, I just may have turned chicken.;0/

                Liked by 1 person

          • You both are right. Some things are not worth bickering about. For instance, I don’t drink alcohol but I won’t beat a fellow Christian over the head if they have an occasional drink. However, some things are absolutes that I will not back down from at all, such as Jesus is the only name by which man can be saved.

            Like

            • That’s reasonable really, and I actually feel the same way, in that I don’t touch it, and think it’s a bad idea, but won’t get worked up if a person does. And I don’t want to bicker with anybody, unless is is an essential, then we can’t back off. And as I said in the post, there might be people I would never start a mission with, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t brothers and sisters.

              Like

  2. Let the wicked continue in their wickedness” rev 22

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Doctrine is important if people had taken it more seriously perhaps we’d have fewer out there making it up How can anyone take the church seriously if we aren’t serious about what we believe and why.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been pondering this (again and afresh) of late, as we are in the midst of some doctrinal discussions. Missing from your study exhortations (which I stand behind, by the way) are Jesus’ own words about interacting with doctrine. He stays way from the “study” command – perhaps because He is ministering to those who do nothing but study – and gives these instruction as to how we know good doctrine:

    “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “So then, you will know them by their fruits. – Matthew 7:15-20 NASB

    Judge doctrinal veracity by the fruit in the life of the minister.

    and this:

    So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. – John 7:16-18 NASB

    The one who should be judging doctrine is the one doing the will of the Father.

    Gives me pause before I start demanding that people agree with my doctrine because i have studied, and proved it logically from the scriptures and i have a stack of books that say it’s so.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Blessings,

    Ben

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The early church was characterized in this way:

    “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (doctrine) and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42

    Although Luke didn’t specifically prioritize what occupied members of the early church, I think we have a strong indicator that doctrine is a priority, specifically, apostolic doctrine.. what specifically did the apostles teach and/or emphasize? That’s where we should land, first and foremost – what we should be about. A good example would be in our evangelistic efforts. What did evangelism look like in the NT? What do we do and consider sacrosanct that isn’t even taught or modeled in NT evangelistic encounters?

    Personally, I would day that the following are the most important doctrines we need to understand:

    1. The doctrine of God.
    2. The doctrine of man.
    3. The doctrine of sin, beginning with the Fall.
    4. The doctrine of redemption/salvation – the doctrine of Jesus.

    There is a lot more that can be said, of course. That’s my starting point. It is out of these four that all other doctrine (teaching) springs. I must believe what the Bible teaches concerning each point, whether or not I like it. If I understand these, I can be an effective evangelist.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Like your post. #DOCTRINEMATTERS. But we must be naunced as you expressed it. There are essential doctrines, important secondary doctrines and other secondary doctrine where we practice charity towards those we disagree.

    Liked by 1 person

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  1. Christian Doctrine. The Essentials to Ensure Salvation? | A Tale Unfolds

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