Thursday, October 18, 2007

Does Jesus Care about Doctrine?

Recently, a post on another blog read:
I don’t fully comprehend your emphasis on doctrine. Jesus never placed doctrine at the center of his good news. If anything he marginalized notions of doctrine (e.g., the sabbath is made for man). Thus, IMHO, I think any talk about doctrine (as typically conceived in our fellowship) as a central concern is a grave error. Wrong right out of the gate. If Jesus is our hermeneutic then doctrinal conversation should always be a marginal conversation. The early church was called The Way. Not a way of believing but a way of living. To miss that point is to, well, miss the entire thrust of Jesus’s life. Again, in my opinion.

This is such a good example of postmodern thinking. It makes Jesus into our own image rather than listening to what Jesus said. Consider how important Jesus considered his sayings, teachings, or doctrine:

Matthew 7:21-23 Hearing but not doing my words is like building on sand. The one who enters the kingdom of heaven is the one who does the will of God.

Matthew 10:14 “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet."

Matthew 15:1-14 The teachings of men render worship vain. Every plant (human tradition) not planted by my Father will be rooted up.

Mark 8:36-38 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37“For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 13:31 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away."

John 8:31-32 “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

John 12:48-50
“He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. 49“For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50“I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

John 17:17ff.

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19“For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

20“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

John 18:37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

This is a simple and hardly exhaustive sample of the high place Jesus placed upon his words or his teaching. Jesus placed His words in a critical role. We are commissioned to preach and teach the gospel (a message). Whether people believe that message will determine their relationship with the Lord and affect their eternity.

It is "sand theology" to treat the teaching of the Lord as if it doesn't matter.



S.O. said...

Good point. Would you comment about the book of Acts not having any doctrinal value? Some say that there is no value to doctrine, just history.

Kathy said...

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

I like this quote from the 1600s:

“By entertaining of strange persons, men sometimes entertain angels unawares: but by entertaining of strange doctrines, many have entertained devils unaware.” John Flavel (1627-1691)

Darin L. Hamm said...

I agree totally.

There is doctrine and it does matter. We may disagree with what that doctrine is, but I will never disagree that it matters.

Phil Sanders said...

Dear S.O.,

The book of Acts contains many things we would not know merely reading the four gospels.

Acts gives us the details about the beginning of the church and the sermons the earliest preachers preached.

We know Jesus is sitting on the throne of his kingdom from the book of Acts. The early disciples preached the gospel of the kingdom.

We know what one must do to be saved from Acts. We learn that preaching Jesus includes baptism.

We know how the church was organized and how it worshiped from the book of Acts.

We learn Jesus purchased the church with his blood from Acts.

The problem is not that Acts has no doctrine. The problem is in understanding the literature of Acts. There are several sermons full of teaching, and the narrative is also instructive. Narrative teaches us by example what is good and right and what is not. Teaching is doctrine.

God bless,

Matthew said...

There is no doubt that Christ cared about what we believed in doctrine. Also, I would be honored to hear your thoughts on some blog posts that I did on Hermeneutics recently. I am studying this and I am trying to find the truth in this regards. Also, I remember reading a great article that you did on the Hezekiah Exception. If you still have a copy of this, I would love to have it. I need it for class, also my professor from FHU asked if he could have one too. I was telling him about it. Thanks for the good blog and I have been enjoying your comments.

Phil Sanders said...


Thanks for your kind words. The two articles I wrote on Hezekiah and the passover appeared in the July 2004 issue of the Spiritual Sword. I again make the point that whatever pardon God granted was not license to continue sin.

Unfortunately, I lost these articles in a hard-drive crash. I still hope to have lunch with you one of these days.


Gardner Hall said...

I fear that comments such as the one you are reviewing are an overreaction to the sectarianism (“Church of Christism”), the fighting about externals and corresponding neglect of the heart that characterized many controversies among known Christians in the past century.

We lose nothing, but rather show the fruit of the spirit when we acknowledge the legitimacy of some of the concerns of these brethren: the denominational concept of the church that many brethren have had and the under emphasis of grace, even as we try to apply spiritual medicine by reiterating the importance of Christ’s doctrine, His authority and the danger of presumption. You have done an excellent job of giving a good spoonful of that medicine in this last blog. Thanks!

Phil Sanders said...

Dear Gardner,

Has it ever occurred to you that I don't always defend "church of Christism"--whatever that is.

I am not a Campbellite. I am a Christian. I am devoted to truth, not traditionalism. I defend the tradition of truth.

What I read from the blog post was not a slam against Campbellism but a slam against the truth.

I am very much aware of the views of those who dislike restoration thinking and patternism. People post to me about it all the time.

I chose to post about this matter because of the lack of understanding the poster gives to what Jesus valued--truth!

Doctrine (teaching) was not marginal to him, though it is marginal to those who love a deeply feeling but unthinking Christianity--such as the one that dominates our culture today.

It does not seem to register to the poster that we would not know the Way to live if we did not know what to believe--whether practically, morally, ethically or ecclesiastically. Let's not forget the "church" was God's idea and purchased by the blood of Jesus. If we love Jesus, we will honor what He teaches about what He loves.

I care about everyone. Part of caring for people is helping them discover what they need, not just what they want. Grace is a teacher that is both prohibitive as well as instructive (Tit. 2:11-14). Grace has no part in leaving people ignorant bout the truth or unwittingly offensive to the Way of God. Grace lovingly corrects error (2 Tim. 2:24-26)


Gardner Hall said...

Just take it as personal communication if you like and don't feel the need to post it unless you really want to. I didn't mean for my comments to come across as negative. When you start your answer to me with a statement such as "Has it ever occurred to you...?" I think I sense a bit of sensitivity and I suppose it's to be understood in light of the fact that you've had to be a bit of a javelin catcher in some of these exchanges. Believe me, I haven’t meant to be a javelin thrower to add to your woes, but rather just tried to stimulate a little thought.

I suppose I have a bit of an unique perspective in observing from afar the exchange you have with the more "progressive" brethren in that I sympathize completely with you about the need to be careful in our application of Bible authority, the presumption of instrumental music in worship, entertainment oriented worship, etc. I hope you’ve sensed that approval. However, I sympathize with some of them when they point out some of the sectarian tendencies among known brethren. When I say that, I’m not referring so much to what little writing of yours that I’ve read (I want to read more!), but rather to historical figures such as Foy Wallace and B.C. Goodpaster. Though excellent preachers in many ways (Goodpaster was one of my Dad’s favorites) I fear that their heavy-handed methods of dealing with some who disagreed with them tended to establish some non-written creeds in the minds of many and reinforce sectarian thinking about the church of Christ. The fact that you portray the church as a body that can be divided or broken might indicate that you have been affected somewhat by that outlook. I say that not to hurl a javelin your way, but just the stimulate thought.

Personally, I think men like David Lipscomb were much more accurate in their understanding of Christ’s way than Wallace, Goodpaster and others like them of the 1940’s and 50’s.

At any rate, please consider me not as an accuser, but a sympathetic friend and brother even though we probably disagree on a few issues, In Him, Gardner