The topic I want to address in this inaugural post of the I Love Doctrine relaunch is the importance of doctrine. I feel the need to address two ideas that should be universally accepted but are often rejected. Specifically, I am writing to make a case for two basic truths that, as core tenets of the Christian faith, should be upheld:
- Not all doctrine is true.
- Doctrine and spirituality are not mutually exclusive.
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, “doctrine is a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true.” Doctrine is a set of beliefs that YOU, yes you, the reader of this article, have nodded in agreement to, deemed to be true, and acted upon. The only question I have is, is that doctrine true?
Truth is an indispensable component of every Christian’s walk with God. The very embodiment of truth, Jesus Christ, came to humanity as God manifest in flesh. Throughout His time on earth he performed many miracles; he raised the dead, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and much, much more. However, none of the miracles that Jesus performed served any purpose outside of the immediate life of the recipient of the miracle, except for teaching doctrine. In other words, if Jesus would have come only to heal sick bodies and open blind eyes, no one other than the recipients of those miracles would have benefited from it. Fortunately, Jesus shared doctrine.
One great example is the famous Sermon on the Mount. We will not go into detail about that sermon now, but when Jesus was finished teaching, those listening were “astonished at his doctrine” (Matthew 7:28). Jesus’ doctrine was truly astonishing because He did something which those in positions of power before him were not capable of doing: “he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:29). Jesus said things that only He, as the Son of God, could say, and made many exclusive, authoritative truth claims. For example, He said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). He spoke those words to indicate to listeners that He was more than merely a normal, fleshly man standing before them. On the contrary, He was fully God and fully man, and in His deity, He had preexisted the patriarch Abraham.
The fortunate thing about believing the testimony of Jesus Christ is knowing that God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). Since Jesus Christ is God manifest in flesh, the same, by nature, is true of Him as well. For that very reason, we know that the word of Jesus Christ is the word of God, and it is objectively true. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Furthermore, the Spirit of Jesus was poured out upon the original leaders of the first century church (Romans 8; Acts 2). Under the inspiration of the Spirit of Jesus, also known as the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, the entire Bible is true and trustworthy.
I wrote everything above to support the last sentence: “the entire Bible is true and trustworthy.” Now, you may be thinking “duh, I already know that. Thanks for wasting my time.” But that claim has certain implications that cannot be overlooked. Perhaps the most important implication is that, knowing the Bible is true because it is God’s word, we should acknowledge that everything outside of God’s word has a section of small print which reads: WARNING – This may not be true. And this is especially true of claims spoken in the name of Christianity. Not everything that sparkles is gold, and not everything that sounds like the truth is true. The Bible is the sole-authority for determining what is true and false regarding important subjects such as God’s nature, God’s plan of salvation for mankind, and any other knowledge that is of eternal value. Never forget that.
An example of “theology” that should come with small print is an idea floating through many Christian circles which suggests that doctrine is not as important as spirituality (as if the two could be separated). Nothing could be further from the truth. A foundational truth about God is the fact that He is Spirit, “and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Therefore, one must give equal consideration to the importance of the work of the Spirit and the necessity of seeking truth. After all, God is referred to as the “Spirit of truth” in John 14:17.
Without truth the spiritual person cannot fully embrace orthodoxy. When this behavior continues, unchecked, error and failure may ensue. Don’t just take my word for it. There are specific instances of this very concept in the word of God. The Corinthians, for example, were conducting meetings (having church services) that were completely out of order. The Corinthians were coming together and speaking in tongues, prophesying, praising, worshipping, etc., all at the same time (1 Cor. 14:26-40). To bring order to the church, Paul wrote to correct and instruct them; or, in other words, Paul shared the truth with the Corinthians as a remedy for their unorderly behavior. Now, 2000 years later, we too understand the importance of orderly gatherings. This is exactly how truth should function in the life of a believer. It should challenge and provoke change and conformity to what the Bible states.
All Christians must be ready to accept truth regardless of how the emotions are affected. And the best place to start is with two important, thought provoking truths: studying doctrine is a spiritual activity, and not all doctrine is true. Since objective truth exists, we must seek for mastery. Perhaps we as individuals won’t know everything there is to know this side of eternity; that shouldn’t stop us from seeking and investigating.
The knowledge and wisdom that can be gained through reading scripture is immensely deep; possibly beyond an individual’s ability to full comprehend. And it’s an intensely spiritual experience. It has been 2,000 years since the Gospel was recorded and we are still mining the depths of the revelation. But we should be careful to give this exploration for truth our utmost effort and dedication. That’s why this website was created. I am dedicated to teaching the truth, and there is only one way to know the truth: studying the Bible. I hope you’ll join me on this adventure!