Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: What in the World is Bible Doctrine?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What in the World is Bible Doctrine?

For one thing, it is a word not very popular with the church growth movement. For many, it is a word that might have once had purpose, but is no longer useful in today's church environment. For others, it is a completely foreign word.

The word doctrine, which literally means "teaching", when combined with the revealed truth of God's Word, means "God's teachings." In other words, these are the things God wants to teach His children, these are things that are important to God and by default should be important to Christians. It simply does not get more important than Bible doctrine. Yet, in some mysterious and perhaps subconscious manner, we have "moved past" these things in the church. To focus primarily on doctrine is to be wasting time, it is to be wading through the waters of "been there, done that" and "I learned this when I was 5." Why waste time on the obvious issues of The Trinity, The Incarnation and The Cross? Why bother with those little things like God's Sovereignty and the problem of sin? The church has made an error somehow in allowing our members to fall into the trap of thinking that doctrine no longer has any use or purpose. It appears that the focal point of a successful church vision involves community outreach projects, sermons on living a productive life and a foundational desire behind it all to make sure everyone goes home happy. I think offering community service opportunities is important. I think living a productive life is important. And I think it is all worthless if the church who is providing these things does not first meet its primary obligation to uphold and teach the doctrines of God.

I recently read this comment concerning the church growth mindset from an online secular encyclopedia called Wikipedia: "several large churches are resorting to using more secularized and occasionally-frowned upon methods in order to draw a larger crowd of youth and/or adolescents. These methods, while on the surface show promise, may or may not provide the framework for maturation of key spiritual foundations." That "framework" that the article refers to can only be provided through the regular teaching and adherence to sound Biblical doctrine. All other methods, no matter how helpful or well-intended, will eventually fall short and produce a flock of Christians who don't know the Bible from the Koran. We are well on our way already.

I am happy to receive weekly emails of sermons preached by a former pastor and co-employee of mine. I was able to sit under him on staff at a church and listen to his messages every week. He is not flashy. He does not provide antics and cool imagery effects from the pulpit. (he might be reading this and thinking I am not doing a very good job of painting a nice picture) But what he does offer is the correct combination of how to live a productive life laid upon the foundation of solid Bible teaching. He doesn't preach to get "amens" from the congregation and he certainly doesn't preach to make a name for himself. Although he and I do not always agree on issues, I respect the way he respects the pulpit and preaches with intelligence the doctrines of God.

So, there are some good role models out there. We must not think we are beyond the teachings of God. We must not become so concerned with divisive issues of doctrine that we completely ignore them. We must keep at heart the truth that the only positive church growth is the kind that produces biblically sound, maturing Christians. May God help us on our way.


Blogger Tim said...

Something that seems to be forgotten along the way is (a) God is a Living God, and is always with us no matter where we are, (b) that believers deal with power, not "just" words, and (c) any "success" a pastor has is soley a working of the Holy Spirit through them.

The same goes for all believers - there's nothing that have that they did not receive. Where does one "receive" from? God Himself. Where is God and His Will to be found? In His words / power and teachings. How do we know what is what right? By right and proper distinction of what He told us. AKA - Doctrine.

It's something like right math or good grammar - all the fussing in the world that thinking otherwise is "divisive" doesn't change the facts of the truth.

December 20, 2006 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Agog said...

I sense this at church I am sorry to write. I am under the impression that a healthy bottom line of growth and numbers is invading our church thought. Watering down seems to be happening at every level. How do we as concerned church members make a difference?

December 20, 2006 4:32 PM  
Blogger The Beast said...

Agog - thanks for your question and for reading The Beast's Lair. Making change of any kind is a difficult process. The very first thing to do would be to visit your pastor and share with him your thoughts and concerns. Chances are, he will be very pleased to have a member talk about theological issues with him rather than grumbling about the flower decoration that was removed for the Christmas play. Also, share you concern and love for God's Word with other church members. Not in a vindictive, gossip method, but to continue the education process. Lord willing, your staff will be eager to address the issues you discuss. Thanks again!

December 22, 2006 2:24 AM  
Blogger Kelly Klages said...

You're absolutely on-target about the fact that doctrine is considered a dirty word these days in so many church circles, particularly "church growth." Anything that might cause division is feared. It can be helpful to think of it this way: Only false doctrine and watered-down half-truths divide the church. One reason true doctrine is so critical is because it unites.

The other issue along the same lines is, "What is *Bible* doctrine, exactly, anyway?" That is what each church works out in its specific confessions of faith-- why things like confessions and creeds exist. They weren't created to "add" to the Bible but to spell out what Bible doctrine is. After all, no Christian denies that they just teach what the Bible teaches. I sat through a sermon once where the pastor went on and on about the importance of sound doctrine, but never spelled out just what sound doctrine was, except for a basic "Jesus is our Savior," and make sure you're following what the Bible teaches. Well, that was vague! :o) That's also what they teach in the Mormon temple down the street.

Good post.

December 23, 2006 1:40 AM  
Anonymous Steven G. said...

Agog, I hope that the Beast is correct and your pastor welcomes or at least answers your theological concerns. It has been my experience in all but one parish (A very small BMA congregation where the pastor was later asked to leave) that I have attended, theological concerns especially of this nature were not welcome and at times not even acknowledged. By the way, this includes an LCMS parish that I recently left. The current LCMS parish is much more "confessional" and currently pastorless so we will see when we get a new pastor. I will pray for you agog and your congregation that you attend along with all the Church that the number emphasis will be replaced with an emphasis on doctrine.

January 03, 2007 10:58 PM  

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