Last week, in TRUE DOCTRINE, Part 2, we saw that doctrine is indeed
very important to God, so important that it is mentioned 37 times in the
Bible. Yet despite this, it is doctrinal beliefs that drive Christians
apart, that disrupt the unity that Jesus wants us to have.
Could it be that in our emphasis on doctrine we aren't using the correct definition of the word?
In my 23 year career as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), I have attended literally hundreds of professional workshops, conferences, and conventions. All of these have been for the same purpose: To provide SLPs with the best, most researched, evidence-based practices for my our work.
It is interesting that before most of these conferences present techniques that are purported to be proven sound by research, they often first spend time helping SLPs understand that the techniques we may have used in the past have not been proven effective.
Why is this?
Because any discussion about what is true and correct must also first disprove the popular beliefs that are not grounded in research.
And this is exactly what the Word of God does as well. Though it DOES define true doctrine, it also is very clear on what is contrary to sound doctrine.
I don't know about you, but I have a few things I expect to find on
this list of things that are "contrary" to sound doctrine. These would
include an in-depth discussion warning us against certain
misinterpretations of prophecy, and perhaps a clarification on the very
teachings that divide our churches.
But the list of things contrary to sound doctrine is actually a bit different:
". . . For the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine …" (1 Tim 1:9b,10 NKJV)
Basically, the Apostle Paul tells us that things that are contrary to
sound doctrine are things that are against the law of God!
So where is the clarification on the teachings that divide our churches?
". . . That you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith." (1 Tim 1:3-5 NKJV). Paul later refers to these same fables as "old wives' fables" (See 1 Tim 4:6-7 NKJV)
As I think of "fables" that have entered the church, a few come to mind. Take the Christmas story, for example. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Mary rode to Bethleham on a donkey. And neither does the Bible mention that the Wisemen were with the Shepherds at the stable. Rather it says they came to the "house" where Jesus was staying (See Matt 2:11).
But wait. These are pretty innocent, wouldn't you say? Are there more
serious fables that have their root in tradition, rather than in God's
I'm afraid that most of our discussions on doctrine would fall in this category, friends. You see, where there are two opinions, there is only one Truth. The word of God is clear that we must seek out that Truth and follow it, even if it goes against what our churches teach. Anything that is not 100% rooted in God's Word is but a fable!
But this seeking out Truth and teaching to others is the very thing that causes most of the division in our churches!
But Paul is clear that we are not to heed things which "cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith." Basically this means that if it causes dispute among the family of God, then it is contrary to sound doctrine!
Does this include our disputes over interpretation of prophecy?
And what about our disagreement on when and how people are to be baptized? And the beliefs on the giftings of the Holy Spirit?
And it also includes any of our disagreements over any other of the other things that we cover in our doctrinal battles, doesn't it?
But wait! Truth IS important! The Bible teaches us to seek out Truth!
True enough. We are ALL exhorted to seek Truth directly from God's Word. And this doesn't mean that we shouldn't share what we find, and seek clarification from other believers. What it means is this: This must be done in Godly love. It means that we cannot let our differences divide us! If a difference becomes so important to us that it causes disputes, then the Bible is clear: It is to be avoided!
Remember Jesus' words? "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls." (Luke 11:17-18 NKJV)
Friends, we have to stop bickering over differences. Instead, we must ALL take it as our personal responsibility to seek Truth directly from the Word of God, even if that Truth is different from what our church teaches. We must always try, in love, to guide people into all Biblical Truth, but we must NOT let our disputes weaken the church of God by bringing dissention among God's children! For if we do not, then we are pushing things that are contrary to sound doctrine.
Okay, but if all the things we think of as "doctrine" are actually contrary to true doctrine, than what IS true doctrine, anyway?
Join us next week for TRUE DOCTRINE, Part 4: The Biblical Definition of Doctrine
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Speech-Language Pathologist,
Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter,
and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and
with Answers2Prayer Ministries,
(To access the entire "True Doctrine: A Pentacost Message" mini-series, please click here.)