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Love and Doctrine

February 1, 2016

February – Valentine’s Day… The word “love” probably makes most people happy – but how do you feel about “doctrine”? Do your eyes light up, or does the excitement drain away, seeing as “doctrine” is difficult, divisive and of purely academic interest? That seems to be what a lot of people think – but it’s not true! “Doctrine” is simply meant to be a succinct formulation of what the Bible teaches about some specific subject.

Unfortunately there’s a lot of confusion in this area: sometimes caused by somebody inventing new doctrines (as in the case of Mormonism), other times by denying or reinterpreting important biblical truths. This can have far-reaching consequences!

During the 19th century the majority of Bible scholars embraced a worldview that excluded the supernatural. They therefore reduced Christianity to a moral standard, and Jesus became just another good teacher, who didn’t perform miracles and didn’t rise from the dead. This diluted version of Christianity spread wide and far within the church, and its sad effects are still with us.

Sadly many of those scholars were convinced they were doing the right thing, helping the faith to survive the encounter with a modern mindset. Many also emphasized love as the main point of Christianity – which of course is not wrong! But I am convinced that this denial of any supernatural element in our faith is a main reason why the church lost so much ground during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Just think about it: if Christianity has nothing unique to offer, why be a Christian? If God never intervenes in human history, how can we even know he’s there? If all religious statements are just ‘sentiments’ rather than fact, why should I care about any of them? And if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, what genuine hope can we offer in the face of suffering and bereavement?

We mustn’t allow anyone to distort the Good News we have to proclaim. We need to be careful to teach, preach and practise what the Bible tells us to teach, preach and practise, even if it goes against the spirit of the age. We mustn’t change biblical doctrine in order to adjust the message to our culture; remember that “God is love” is also a doctrinal statement! The Gospel of human sin, divine love and redemption through blood of Jesus was always countercultural, and must remain so in all ages and all cultures. It might be uncomfortable, but if the message is true, we have no other choice.

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From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

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