Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Debating doctrine

On some christian online groups, there seems to be a fascination with doctrine. Doctrinal debates will begin that get so intense that they often de-escalate into arguing and name calling and sometimes even cursing. As a result, some members leave the group wounded and hurting. I’ve even seen this happen in groups where the members supposedly understand grace.

These believers will say that doctrine is important and that correct doctrine is critical and they feel it’s their christian duty to defend correct doctrine at all cost. To prove their point, they will cite the fact that Jesus, Paul and the other New Testament writers all wrote about doctrine. I think they forget that Jesus, Paul and the others discussed doctrine in the framework of real life.

The New Testament letters were written as a help and encouragement to believers who were dealing with specific issues. Paul didn’t just out of the clear blue sky write them letters and begin talking about doctrine. Either they had contacted him or he had heard about struggles and questions they had and he wrote to share what he had learned hoping that it would help them in their journeys.

People who focus heavily on doctrine seem to feel it’s okay to correct total strangers who they disagree with and often seem to forget that brothers and sisters should be treated with respect. As I look at the New Testament letters, one thing seems to stand out and it’s the fact that these letters were written out of relationship. They were written by an individual who knew the heart of the people to whom he was writing. That’s why Paul when writing even the most corrective letters could remind the people of the good that was in their hearts.

Understanding doctrine is important but it was never meant to be expressed outside of the natural flow of life. All doctrine is meant to be lived and not merely discussed.


lionwoman said...

I hear you, sister. Some may not see it, but I think they're confusing relationship with doctrine with a relationship with a Person. If it was all about correct doctrine, how did the early believers make it without a written Bible? This is my .02 worth, anyway :-D

Aida said...

Amy, I think you’ve said it well.

Because of what we’ve been taught in our years in religion, we tend to believe that it’s necessary to believe the correct doctrine in order to be saved and, as a result, when our pet doctrines are challenged we become defensive. I honestly believe that the more secure we are in our relationship with God, the less inclined we’ll be to argue.

Good point about the early believers. Actually, they seem to have done better without a Bible than we’re doing with ours as well as all of the other Bible helps we have. Maybe that’s because all they had to depend on was the Holy Spirit and he proved himself to be more than enough.

John Fincher said...

You'll LOVE the church sign close to my house - "Build your life by the Book"

Where is the RELATIONSHIP in that?

Aida said...

John, it sounds kind of like having relationship with a dictionary.

Jim Robbins said...
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Aida said...
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