Friday, February 27, 2009

Hunger for Righteousness

"Nobody's interested in that." That's what I heard about doctrinal matters of the church. People simply aren't interested in doctrinal things; they want preaching and teaching that meet felt needs.

Well, I beg to differ. "The Affirming the Faith" Seminar in OKC was filled and overflowing. The open forum in Cleburne over the Emerging Church Movement was full of folks, young and old. The lecture and Q & A session I did Thursday night on Instrumental Music in Wagoner, OK filled every pew in the auditorium with people, young and old.

Is there a hunger for truth? Yes. People have not stopped thinking about what pleases God, and they are willing to hear "doctrinal" preaching. The belief that people are interested anymore speaks more about those who say such things than it does about reality. People are interested in what the Bible teaches, because they are interested in God.

Truth matters to God, and it should matter to us. Preachers should get out their sermons on doctrinal matters and preach them. They might be surprised at the people's reactions.

Starving folks makes 'em hungry; and much of religion today is empty of distinctive truth.



David Kirk said...

Good news!

reborn1995 said...

i think you're right that it's entirely appropriate to deal with "doctrinal matters" in classrooms and from pulpits. And no doubt there are still a great many people in the CoC who are interested in hearing such material.

However, demonstrating the fallacy of one extreme position (that *no one* wants to hear about "doctrinal matters" so *no one* should ever preach about them) does not justify the opposite extreme. Surely, you'd be willing to acknowledge that some are guilty of preaching an undue amount on "doctrinal matters" and with undue emphasis, wouldn't you?

If everyone in the room already believes that instrumental music is wrong and no one in the congregation is pushing for anything different, is a two month series on I.M. really called for? If everyone in the room already believes that baptism is necessary for salvation and no one is saying any differently, is it really expedient to spend a whole quarter offering scriptural proof of that proposition?

It seems to me the NT writers practiced needs-based preaching. When a given body of Christians needed to hear about doctrinal matters, the writers delivered (for instance, John regarding gnosticism or Paul regarding the resurrection). But notice that they taught on other matters *as was needed given the real circumstances of their audiences* (James wrote of prejudice and being partial based on appearances, Paul wrote to the Philippians about practicing unity and humility, John wrote about loving through action).

i've been a part of congregations where people were inauthentic, barely spoke to each other on more than a superficial level, ostracized each other and others at the slightest cultural differences, gossipped incessantly, did nearly nothing in the way of local or foreign mission and benevolent work, and more. What came from some of those pulpits and classrooms? --No shortage of talk about instrumental music or roles of women or five acts of worship or all the innovative things the church across town is doing. (And what's more, the people in the pews couldn't get enough of such topics.)

Surely this other extreme is no better than the error of which you're writing.

Keith Brenton said...

'Scuse me - where do we find the doctrine of instrumental music in the Bible again?

Frank Bellizzi said...


It sounds as if by "doctrinal preaching" you mean preaching that deals with specific issues or questions. If that's the case, I would disagree with the definition.

If doctrine mean "a teaching" then anytime someone preaches, it's doctrinal.

The question then becomes, What doctrines should be taught? What adds up to the "healthly teaching" of the letters to Timothy and Titus?

The great theme of the Bible is God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Folks from the Churches of Christ will always appreciate hearing about why they're right on the instrument question and the Lord's Supper every Sunday, etc.

But what the world is really hungry for is God. The church exists for the purpose of bringing honor to God the Father, by following the example of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit. That's the church's doctrine. When that isn't the bulls-eye, we're aiming at the wrong target.

T said...

Does doctrinal correctness somehow equal righteousness? To me, one is external command keeping and the other is motivated by a heart seeking to be like it's creator...too many times folks are all for doctrinal correctness as long as they don't have to really give their heart over to God.

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."

And putting a lot of people in the pews for an event and teaching them some rules does not equal righteousness in those people in my opinion.

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

Matthew said...

I was in class with your brother-in-law, Dale. Great man.

Phil Sanders said...


The people of Matthew 15 were both doctrinally and in heart wrong. The doctrines and practices they embraced came from wrong hearts, devoted more to the fathers' traditions and to self-righteousness than to God.

Innovation, false doctrine, is a means of exalting oneself above God and correcting God.

Righteousness does certainly come by faith. It is in the obedience of faith that one becomes right with the Lord (Rom. 1:5; 16:26-27). No one is suggesting here that anyone can earn salvation. God cleanses us.

But doctrine does matter. God will not save the person who fails to obey the TRUTH (Rom. 2:6-11; 1 Pet. 1:22).

God cleanses, and GOD ALSO makes his conditions. One does not happen without the other. Don't get in God's way but ignoring the conditions HE laid down.


Phil Sanders said...

All doctrine deals with specific issues and questions, whether it is the cross, the resurrection, the church, worship, or whatever. Doctrine is teaching--the teaching of the Lord.

When people eschew doctrine, they affront the Lord.

I too know that the great themes of the Bible deal with the nature of God and His work on this earth and His plan for eternity.

But bringing glory to God means bringing glory in the way He instructs. There is no glory to God in self-made religion. One doesn't rule out the other. How is God glorified by worship that is humanly based and in violation of his teaching?


Phil Sanders said...

you know as well as I that the "doctrine of instrumental music" is of human origin not God. That's why the early church vehemently opposed the use of it for so many years.


Phil Sanders said...

The apostle Paul preached the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and he taught Timothy to preach the word in all seasons.

I agree that the abuse of thing does not argue against it valid use. I teach balance. What I'm seeing in the church, though, is a hunger for that which they are not getting--doctrinal preaching.

BTW, I also am doing many seminars on postmodern thinking and soul-winning. Doctrine is not the only thing I think about.