Doctrine is important but it can be easy to have doctrine as an end until itself. We want the truth. We want to know the truth…we want true biblical doctrine. But is that enough? I used to think it was but I don’t think so anymore. There are people out there who know biblical doctrine and are absolute stinkers. What good is doctrine if it doesn’t result in actual biblical outcomes like character formation, growing in love of God and neighbor, benevolent deeds that come from generous hearts? Doctrine without the corresponding spiritual growth, development and actions is dead.
If you had to complete the sentence, “Doctrine is only as good as…” how would you complete the sentence? I want to hear your thoughts and I will share my answer in the comments.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Pentateuch. Judges. Kings and kingdoms. Major Prophets. Minor Prophets. Gospels. Letters. Revelation.
ALL knew the doctrine, but issues still arose…
It seems a very human characteristic to have disconnect between the doctrine and the way we actually live.
The cycle is clear in Judges: Run with God. Run away from God. Run back to God.
Even as the Law is given to the people, they act against God – who is right there, visibly, with them. Or, as Lynn McMillan once painted the picture, here your tent is lit by the column of fire, representing God’s presence – and you pick a fight with your wife??
We seem to have that constant battle between our heads and our hearts…
Great comment…now imagine that we are temples of God’s Holy Spirit…and we pick a fight with our wife who is also a temple of the Holy Spirit! Wow!
Doctrine is only good if we consider all of Scripture and not a few select verses that we build our theology off of.
“….as the amount of transformation of the heart of the practitioner.”
I grew up in the Church of Christ, rejected it all for a while, and now attend a “progressive” Church of Christ (my parents weren’t sure I was “saved” – we offer an instrumental service…). Doctrine is not as important to me as action. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, mind, and soul followed by love your neighbor as yourself. If you do these two things the rest will take care of itself. Doctrine seems less important than loving. My experience is that surety of doctrine seems to make for some self-righteous, judgemental folks.
Doctrine’s importance is emphasized in the Gospels and the writings. The problem lies in balancing the two.
Here is the guy counting out the minutest of his seeds, while his parents are starving. Was tithing important for Jews? Of course it was – but not at the cost of taking care of people in need! That was, after all, one of the reasons for tithing. (Matthew 23)
Or the rich young man – I do all of that, Jesus! Jesus: Sell all that you have…
Here is the person who brags about how well he understands faith. But while having this “great understanding,” nothing is done with that “understanding.”
…as it is lived in the grace of Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
Actions. You don’t have to understand much or any of doctrine. What are the two most important commandments? To love the Lord thy God and to love thy neighbour as thyself.