February 4, 2015

Christian Manifesto VI: Sound Doctrine

I believe in the proclamation, teaching or preaching of sound Christian doctrine.

“You will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.” ~ 1 Timothy 4:6

As G.K. Chesterton once said:
“When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything."

We are in a really bad situation in this country and in the world today. The ever shifting sands of cultural opinion has led to societal confusion and moral inconsistency. In worst-case scenarios it has led to horrible morals or a complete lack of them. We are a confused and gullible generation just as the last few have been. The Church which needs to be the moral and wise lamp post for society has caved into cultural mores and become just like the indecisive culture.

All this to say that the church should’ve been standing firm in logic, wisdom and above all….doctrine. Once the Church cut adrift from Scripture, old heresies and moral vacillation set it. With no basis for truth and morality the church strayed just like the society that surrounded it. Now all that is a left is a handful of biblically literate and biblically obedient churches to hold the line as the entirety of western civilization becomes more uncivilized and morally debased. The true Church has now become the rather small moral and ostracized anchor for such an unwieldy postmodern monstrosity. A society that doesn’t even take the Church serious because it has vacillated too much or contradicted its teachings with its actions.

Heresies arise because of bad teaching or failure to teach. Proper doctrine and theology should always back church preaching and teaching. Proper doctrine and theology is formulated from a proper understanding of Scripture. In the passage above Paul tells Timothy to be trained in the words of faith and the good doctrine that he has followed up to the time of the writing of the letter. These words of faith and doctrine we have are contained in the Bible. Paul will later go on to exhort Timothy to…

1 Timothy 4:6-7 ~ “If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”

1 Timothy 4:11 ~ “Command and teach these things.”

1 Timothy 4:13-16 “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Paul is telling Timothy (and us) to stand firm in our faith and not to be swayed by surrounding cultural and societal anomalies. By dedication or efforts to pursue sound doctrine, teaching and preaching we are spending time immersed in correct thinking. What we are not doing is going out in the world having our thinking impaired or totally derailed. Paul is emphatic. In verse 13 in the Greek he uses the direct article “the” to preface the nouns. We are to be devoted to, “the reading, the preaching and the teaching.” Reading, preaching and teaching what? The Word. The Gospel. The truths of God. It is in these three that the nucleus or core of the faith are sustained. Once we understand and take to heart these things we have the basis for our salvation and God’s purposes. This is the focus of the early Christian faith (see Declaration 5). It is here we see what amounts to a piece of discipleship.  That is why we have things today like the Apostles Creed, Athanasian Creed, Chalcedonian Creed, Nicene Creed, Westminster Confession of Faith, etc that are still adhered to.

When this nucleus given to us by Paul begins to dissolve or soften, so does the faith. This is what we see in society that have given way in doctrine to things like the divinity or Christ, the inerrancy and accuracy of Scripture and other core doctrines. We see an ever-shifting morass of doctrinal error and relativistic truth. To me this is just insane. Drifts from doctrine lead to false teaching sects that become incompatible and hostile to the true faith that has survived intact since the time of Christ. In time it devolves into outright heresy. Why would it need to change now?

I have been routinely told that being dogmatic about doctrine is harsh and unloving. To passively allow error and not speak truth into the situation is foolishness. A failure to act in these situations knowing something is wrong or theologically unsound is the equivalent of moral apathy or complete ambivalence. It is the moral / theological equivalent of watching a murder unfold and saying nothing knowing you can stop it. We are told that by being “caustic” or “abrasive” in this type of an approach we are being unloving. We need to be loving and not be confrontational with the rogue agents in the Church. Really? What is more unloving, allowing someone to pursue errant theology that condemns and damns them (and others) or correcting their errant philosophies and saving them from the fact that they are not as biblical as they thought they were?

Sorry folks, I’ll err on the side of caution here and rebuke 100 times over rather than let some damn themselves. I’d rather be perceived as harsh and help save someone with a harsh truth rather then be polite to them and damn them to Hell. To me, being unloving is not telling someone they are wrong when it is a potential error, especially in aa primary doctrinal salvation-based issue. If I hated them I would remain silent. My rebuke shows my love. Many members within churches have this one completely backwards. I rebuke you because I love you, not because I don’t.

We must remain vigilant to even the slightest hint of tolerating false belief. True doctrine that is based in Scripture leads to godliness and holiness. That is the true test of what is proper biblical teaching. What passes itself off as Christian teaching most times in the culture is actually destroying society morally. This should tell you all it needs to tell you about the source of the truth.

Finally, we need to tell the truth no matter how we are received or perceived.

2 Timothy 4: 2 "...Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

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