Lately, it has begun to feel like “doctrine” is a bad word.
In conversations in person and online, I have seen sentiments like:
Doctrine is divisive
Doctrine is whatever you think is right
The Gospel is not a doctrinal statement
Doctrine only causes conflict
Doctrine is just a white, Western construct
The past year has brought a variety of trials and conflicts to the church and Christian culture at large. As the world has chaotically and rapidly changed around us, Christians have had to decide whether they will stand with God and His Word, or give in to the opinions of popular culture on a plethora of topics: race and diversity, LGBTQ+, feminism, universalism, inclusivity, masculinity, political issues…the list really could go on and on!
As Godly women, how are we to interpret and interact with these issues? Praise God He has given us guidance and direction through His Word and doctrine!
“Doctrine” means a teaching or position in a branch of knowledge or belief (I condensed that from the Webster dictionary!). Doctrine is what the Word says, and what we therefore believe about God. It is not something we can dismiss or ignore, and attempting to do so has significant consequences. As we see the tension building within our culture and around the world, I feel how tempting it can be to play it safe, treasure the approval of others, and stay quiet on what the Bible has to say about these very relevant and tense topics. How much easier it can be to blame the tension on “doctrine” and be swayed along with the cultural current in the name of “unity” than to stand confidently on what God’s Word says.
Of course, negative views about doctrine are nothing new. Even in Biblical times, Christians were instructed through God’s Word (and the New Testament letters that would shortly thereafter become a part of the Bible) about why doctrine matters, the importance of knowing sound doctrine, and the dangers of being influenced by unsound doctrine:
“If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…” 1 Timothy 6:3-4
“But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.” Titus 2:1
“In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.”
1 Timothy 4:6
“Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” Romans 16:17
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…” 1 Timothy 4:1
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3
“…not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.” Titus 2:10
Many, however, will argue that doctrine is divisive, and shouldn’t we be unified?
This is true, doctrine does often cause division. So when we see division among Christians over matters of doctrine, we must take a stance of humility and examine our own hearts and minds:
Do I truly align with what God says on this topic in His Word?
Am I actually familiar with what the Bible says?
Am I willing to disagree with popular Christian authors, teachers, and influencers who firmly hold views contrary to Scripture?
Or even more challenging, am I willing to disagree with friends, family, and co-workers in order to stand for truth?
Friends and sisters, doctrine is important and it does matter. Studying and understanding the doctrine God has laid out for us in His Word impacts how we live our lives, how we endure trial and suffering, and how and why we make the choices we do. It impacts whether or not we worship the God of the Bible or a false god masquerading as Christ. It has eternal significance and consequences. Our doctrine should not be based on how we feel about a topic or what we think is correct, but instead based on what God has said to us in the Bible. The doctrine of Christ and His Gospel is not something we get to pick and choose based on our personal thoughts, but is something that has already been laid out for us by Him in His Word!
How thankful I am that God has given us His Word as the foundation for our doctrine.
How thankful I am for the doctrine of the Gospel.
How thankful I am to serve a loving, sovereign, powerful God.