A lot of Christians are down on doctrine.
For some good reasons, actually. There have been Christians through the years who have made doctrinal knowledge the primary goal of the Christian life. There have been some pastors and theologians who, lacking humility and grace, have weaponized doctrine. Minor doctrinal disputes have unnecessarily divided brothers and sisters in Christ. People have pursued wisdom and knowledge instead of pursuing godliness and love.
As a result, doctrine has become a dirty word for some. Its importance has been minimized. Pursuing a deeper understanding of the character, nature and purposes of God has been devalued. Being “doctrinaire” is not considered a compliment. Who wants to be “that guy?”
Maybe you’ve heard people say things like “It’s not about doctrine, it’s all about Jesus.” Of course the problem with a statement like that is that as soon as you ask them “tell me more about Jesus,” whatever they say next is doctrine.
Or maybe you’ve heard people say “how you live matters more to God than what you believe.” They’ve elevated orthopraxy (correct conduct) above orthodoxy (correct belief).
As we’re seeing in our study of 1 John, the Bible does not divide the two. What we believe about what the Bible teaches is as important as how we live and how we love. Minimize belief and you cut the taproot. The tree dies. Minimize how we live or how we love, and the tree is barren. You remember what happened when Jesus saw the barren tree, right?
Doctrine is what’s under the hood of our faith. It’s the engine and the transmission. It’s the power train. Meanwhile, how we live and how we love others is the part of the car that everyone sees. The styling. The interior.
A car maker that doesn’t pay attention to what’s under the hood winds up with a car that doesn’t perform well. A car that breaks down and is in the shop a lot.
A car maker that doesn’t pay attention to the design and interior of the vehicle builds a car that may function well, but no one wants to own it or ride in it.
Orthodoxy is foundational. It’s where we start. Orthopraxy only grows in the good soil of good doctrine.
And both matter a lot to God. After all, He gave us His word and told us to delight in it. To meditate on it. To make it our daily bread. And He has given us His Spirit as well. To lead us into all righteousness. To convict us of sin. To conform us into the image of His Son.
Orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Word and Spirit. Truth and grace. My prayer is that we will continue as a church to emphasize both equally. To be people who grow in wisdom and knowledge and understanding, and at the same time grown in grace and love.
Most of you know I’ve never been to seminary. But studying theology and doctrine has been a passion of mine. Understanding more the key doctrines of the Christian faith have been central to how God has begun the process of transforming my life and weaning me from sin and self.
Because of how important the study of theology has been in my life, I want to spend time with you this summer digging deeper into an understanding of what the Bible teaches about key areas of our faith: the Bible, the character and nature of God, the doctrine of man, the person and work of Jesus, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, how people are made right with God, the critical importance of biblical community and what the Bible teaches us about the last days.
Starting Monday night June 3, and continuing every Monday night for eight weeks this summer, I’ll be leading a discussion at church on these topics. We’ll be using RC Sproul’s helpful book Everyone’s A Theologian as a guide.
I know. The cover is pretty bad, right? Don’t judge the book by it, okay? You can order a copy from Amazon here.
I hope you’ll plan to join the group as often as you’re able on Monday nights this summer. If you have to miss, no worries. Let’s till the soil of our hearts by digging deep into God’s word together. And let’s ask God to use that study to grow grace in us and to make us more like His Son in the process.
You may have seen this on Facebook already, but our investment as a church in seeking to serve our new neighbors at David O’ Dodd Elementary School have been noticed – and recognized.
Thanks to Matt Gurney for his leadership and to all of you who have helped out with activities and service projects over the past six months.
Don’t forget what’s happening on Friday night this week as the RCC ladies gather for a special night of worship. Here’s the info:
Things are moving forward at our new home on David O’Dodd.
We have windows.
… walls …
… and wires!
This weekend, we received $4224 in donations designated to the building wish list fund. Thanks so much to all who have contributed and pledged. We’ve secured the funding needed to finish our landscaping and to purchase and install a new sound system, platform lighting, projection and our new video system for the live stream.
We still have a number of items on our wish list. We’re hoping to raise an additional $100,000 in funds or pledges in the next three months to move forward with additional items (furniture, new nursery and toddler supplies, and a variety of additional purchases). If you’re able to contribute, please add the word “building” to the memo line on any checks you write, or select “Building” from the drop down menu when you make a donation on line.
If you have a son or daughter you’d like to have dedicated to the Lord on Mother’s Day, May 12, please contact Cathy Crowell soon to let her know. Cathy’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the dedication details:
Where does fellowship with God begin? As we’ll discover this week, 1 John says it starts with a right understanding of our sin dilemma.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!