Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The ABC's of " Doctrine"...

Please take the time and effort to get the Gospel right: Your eternal destination depends on it

In my prior post I talked about Christian "doctrine"; doctrinal statements and specific points of doctrine. Churches, good and bad, usually have some kind of doctrinal statement on their website or in the literature they offer to visitors under the heading , "Statement of Faith", or "What We Believe". Christian doctrine is one of those terms that can intimidate you if you don't understand it's meaning. 

Doctrine, in the Christian sense, are the teachings that have been  revealed by God in the Holy Scriptures as Truth. Doctrinal statements summarize what a particular church believes. Some church doctrinal statements are better written than others. There are some church doctrinal statements that are incoherent, misleading, confusing, inconclusive, and patently unbiblical; these are churches you want to avoid.  

And just to be clear, many Bible believing, Gospel preaching churches disagree on minor points of doctrine, or those points of doctrine that are not essential to the salvation of one's soul. For example, on the doctrine of "Creation" some Christians believe  that the universe is only thousands of years old, while others, like myself, believe it is billions of years old. Bible believing, Gospel preaching Churches also commonly disagree on the doctrines of eschatology, the extent of man's sinful corruption, and man's free-will versus God's sovereignty; these doctrines are not essential to salvation, and there is greater latitude allowed for disagreement. 

On the other hand, it is of utmost importance to be correct on certain Christian doctrines. A good doctrinal statement should make every attempt to communicate Truth; it should be clear, concise, and constructed with carefully measured words in order to communicate the essence of a particular doctrine with precision. A good doctrinal statement also ought to have Scripture references that support that what the church believes is in accordance with Scripture.

Now you might be thinking, "I don't care about all this doctrine stuff, it sounds boring and it's not my thing. I just want to follow Jesus and live the way He wants me to live". Look, if you go to a church or profess to be a Christian, then it is impossible to escape doctrine, because the moment you  mention the name "Jesus", you must think in terms of what is true and what is false about Jesus; that's doctrine, and Scripture explains what is True about Jesus. 

Who is Jesus? Was Jesus just a human teacher with brilliant spiritual insight? Or was Jesus God in human flesh?  What did Jesus teach about how you are to live your life? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? It is apparent that doctrine is inescapable. 

Another example. The word "God" means many different things to many different people. Some people think of god as nothing more than some kind of cosmic life energy. Others think god is akin to a kindly old grandfather who just ignores the naughtiness of his children and welcomes everyone into Heaven. And others view god as a cruel and abusive deity, a cosmic killjoy with oppressive rules and regulations. Hindu's believe there are many gods and Muslims believe in a god unlike the Christian God named Allah. Pantheists believe god is all and all is god. And then there are some people who don't even believe in God at all. According to Scripture, these are all false doctrines of god. In biblical language these false gods are idols. 

But what does the Bible specifically teach about the one True God, the Christian God? A good doctrinal statement will clarify what Scripture reveals to be true about the Christian God. 

Other doctrinal points that are commonly addressed in a church's Statement Of Faith besides God, Jesus, and justification, include Scripture (what does the Bible teach about the Bible),  creation, the Trinity, man, sin, redemption, sanctification, The Great Commission, the Church, the ordinances of the Baptism and Holy Communion, Satan and demons, the Last Judgment, Heaven and Hell, and Eschatology, which is a theological term pertaining to "end times". 

So you see, when I mention  the word "doctrine"  there is nothing to fear. Christian doctrines are simply teachings that are True about ultimate reality as revealed in the Scriptures. Doctrinal statements posted on church websites and in handout literature explain what that particular church believes in, usually in brief, bullet point sentences that are easy to understand. 
Tullian Tchividjian does a great job in this link describing theology and doctrine, and explaining the importance of good docrtine.


Now for some examples of doctrinal statements so you know what I am getting at.

  • This first example I found on the Internet. It is First Calvary Baptist Church in Eagan, Minnesota. Notice that each doctrinal point is clear and concise, with relevant Scripture references available to look up in your Bible. I disagree on a few minor points of doctrine related to creation and eschatology, but overall, this looks like a pretty solid church, on paper anyway. I would give this church a "test drive" per my previous post.

    • The next example is from Redeemer Bible Church which is my church home. Now at first glance, it doesn't seem to measure up to the doctrinal statement of First Calvary Baptist Church. It is not as comprehensive in regard to the number of doctrines covered. That, and there are no Scriptures on the website to support their particular doctrinal points. But notice right under the banner, "What We Believe". it says,

    "This is just a brief overview of our beliefs. If you want a full statement of our beliefs, please contact us."

    • The full doctrinal statement of Redeemer Bible Church is a document titled, "Creeds and Confessions". When my wife and I applied for membership, we reviewed the entire document in our membership class. It is forty one pages long, and it will absolutely blow your mind as to how detailed this document is! Check out the link here: Creeds and Confessions of Redeemer Bible Church. This page includes all the footnotes and Scripture references at the bottom of the document. . 

    • Here is a link to a cult church called "A True Church" whose leader is a man called Darwin Fish.  Check out their beliefs here: A True Church: Statement of Faith Look it over and then look at the other goodies they have on their website. He sounds very religious, he exposes "false teachers,", he quotes a lot of Scripture. Does this sound like a true church to you? Darwin Fish is false teacher. 
    •  Now let's try a link to the Mormon Church: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, official website and their  Articles of Faith. Do they preach a false gospel? After all, their website does offer a doctrinal statement that affirms things that sound very orthodox...or do they? Discernment is key in answering that question. 
    •  Now read this link, challenging the beliefs of the Mormon Church. Does their doctrinal statement accord with what Scripture teaches? I would say "no".
     Now that you know something about doctrine, I will apply the principle of doctrine to The Crossing  Church in particular. On my next post I will list all ten doctrinal points of The Crossing Church; "What we Believe" as they say. Then I will critique all ten points beginning with point number one. Please come back; join me in examining the truth claims of The Crossing Church. 


    1. Interesting discussion Mr. Yesac :)

      I think if someone is going to have a "doctrine" and use it to critique other doctrines, it is very important to have a non contradictory worldview. Be able to define basic doctrinal terms like God, Jesus, grace, love, faith,truth, etc in a non contradictory way. If you have that, then you will be able to challenge those you disagree with to do the same. If they cannot, and admit they don't know yet, but want to learn, then maybe they are showing humility, they could be true seekers.
      If they just argue they are right, without showing HOW, or WHY they are, or they discourage such thinking and questioning, or they resort to threat, that shows the cultic mindset!
      carry on my friend!

    2. Mike, I agree with your comments. I have already established in a prior post that both The Crossing and myself profess that the Bible is God's Word, and that it's our final authority. It is the authoritative standard we both agree on. And it is on that ground that we can both use the principle of 2Timothy 3:16-17 to teach, correct, and reprove one another using Scripture. But as you will see in my next post, it is The Crossing that is caught red handed in the cookie jar of a contradictory worldview. The Crossing or anyone else for that matter can demonstrate that I am the one who is in error as long as they use Scripture to do so. Thanks cor the comments, Mr. Ekim. I suppose I should post a link to your blog, even though it's not a religious blog, eh?

    3. ah yes, and that seems to be the issue, many people profess to believe the Bible is God's word.(Does the Bible even make that claim for itself?)but they all have differing interpretations...
      I comment on religious blogs now and then but would prefer not to link at this point, thanks for the offer though Mr Yesac :D hey why is windows saying I am misspelling your name? haha

    4. Here's and interview you might want to listen to. There are other folks out there who have had similar experiences with Eric Dykstra

    5. Thanks a million Chris! Fantastic interview. This is top notch testimony from a Crossing insider. I'll post the interview and blog links soon.