According to George Barna, the surveyor and pollster of the Christian community, the most widely known Bible verse among adults and teen believers is "God helps those who help themselves". As Barna goes on to say, it is neither in the Bible and it is in conflict with the Bible's central message.
The Barna Research Group has concluded that only one out of every ten believers possess a Biblical worldview as the basis for his or her decision-making or behavior.
I've never been a big sports fan, but I have read the biographies written about men like football coaches Chuck Noll, Tony Dungy, Vince Lombardi, etc. Vince Lombardi Jr. wrote, in his book, 'The Essential Vince Lombardi', "Fundamentals were the foundation of my father's coaching philosophy".
Today, modern "seeker friendly" churches seem to imply that doctrine doesn't matter so much about what you believe as long as you just 'love' one another. We are told to push aside the peripheral (doctrine) issues. That has beened inferred by referring to me as a 'heresy' hunter and being a 'King James Only' member. If you take time to read the entire content of this post you will begin to see why sound doctrine matters. It mattered to the Creator of the universe. as revealed in the words of the Lord HImself!
I often heard the late Paul Crouch, founder of the TBN television network frequently state, "he didn't care about doctrine, to him doctrine was not essential". That statement really was so hypocritical of a man who would wear a clerical collar to identify to the world around that he was a man of God. It was not only hypocritical it revealed how much he did not love His Savior.
Recently, Bill Hybels, of the Willow Creek Church in the Chicago suburb of South Barrington, IL, the originator and founder of the "seeker friendly" evangelism or "seeker sensitive" movement, conclude that after twenty-five years his experiment has been a resolute failure, failure in regards to his people learning anything the Bible. The informal worship style, casual dress, music, use of drama, and times of worship, all the things done to make it easier for people to come into contact with the Christian faith had been a total waste of effort. He surveyed thousands that attended services at Willow Creek Church to determine what they had learned, if anything. His conclusion was that it all was a shocking failure.
I don't know if I ever shared my story about going to meet with our first pastoral-parish-relations committee . My wife and I drove to our future district superintendent's office, where we then traveled in his car to a church nestled in the extreme southwest corner of Pennsylvania bordering West Virginia on two sides. It was a 3-church circuit but the committee met at the larger of the three churches. Following the introduction and pleasantries of everyone the D.S. got down to specifics and gave our background. The chairman of the committee was dressed in farm bib-coveralls, and a plaid shirt. He said he was running short of time and had to go to work soon at the natural gas line pump station. He wanted to get down to specifics and spoke up on behalf of the committee and began his comments and began with three questions.
I can remember as if it was yesterday. I was expecting the kinds of questions I experienced on college and seminary exams. Anticipating profound questions it was a real shock and a let down of what ensued. These were the questions the chairman of the committee pitched:
1. Can you lead singing?
2. Would I mow my own grass?
3. How long was I going to stay?
These were not the kinds of questions I had been expecting. I expected to be grilled over matters like my testimony, my basic beliefs on the Bible, what I believed about abortion, the plans of the coming merger between the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, etc., something more like spiritual or religious in content.
I stayed there for four years before moving to attend seminary in Pittsburgh. The three churches grew, my youth group went from 5 to 54. While there I opened a mission church for a community of dirt-poor rural farm folks, on a red-dog road where the pot holes were filled in with coal slag and burnt ashes.
In discussion of the issue of "Doctrine" in the Church, people seem to have a negative view of what it means, almost if it was like a four-letter word. The fact is that the word "doctrine" is just another word for "teachings". There isn't one of you that has not had to undergo or having learned doctrine about your job and work assignment. Well the fact is that sound doctrine is essential to the church and understanding the Bible:
1. Sound doctrine is necessary for establishing Biblical Truth and for refuting error.
2. Christian ministry and theology go hand in hand.
3. Sound doctrine is the very heart of the Christian faith.
4. Sound doctrine is both relevant to and practical for Christian living
5. Sound doctrine allows no compromise.
6. Sound doctrine is not an option for one who belongs to Christ Jesus.
7. The neglecting of sound doctrine brings grave danger to the church of Christ Jesus.
The very word "Doctrine" means "teaching" and is found 51X in 50 verses. It is found 6X in the Old Testament, and 45X in the New Testament.
Consider where it is used most in the Bible, and ponder why so? Doctrine appears as follows:
Matthew - 3X
Mark - 5X
Luke - 1X
John - 3X
Acts - 4X
Romans - 2X
1st Corinthians - 2X
Ephesians - 1X
1st Timothy - 8X
2nd Timothy - 4X
Titus - 3X
Hebrews - 2X
2nd John - 2X
Revelation - 3X
Unfortunately for Christianity, the acceptability of "pluralism" came in through the back door from the Ecumenical movement of Vatican II; and, Protestant leaders agreed to speak no ill of Rome, the Catholic Church, and all other religious groups. The campus organization 'Campus Crusade for Christ' taught a similar view. "We are to put aside the peripheral issues (that is, doctrinal issues) that divide us.. men are reminded that the real issue is Jesus Christ, and that we are to "love" one another even if we do not agree theologically or philosophically or doctrinally. I encourage you to apply this principle of LOVE and acceptance with all of your Christian friends, and help make Christ the issue." This statement was issued by the organization several decades back.
This naive view reflects the old Rodney King statement, "can't we just get along!" While that might be perfect, if we lived in an ideal world, and not the fallen world we exist in. But try to tell that to ISIS or Hamas, or the Jesuits. In order to test this philosophy, I encourage you to test this against the Word of God using 1st Thessalonians 5:21, "Prove all things: hold fast that which is good." It isn't long before you soon discover there are many questions that can't be ignored or set aside.
1. What place did the Lord give to teaching (doctrine) in the Great Commission as given in Matthew 28:19-20? What exactly was to be the content of their teaching? Were they to be teaching only "essential" doctrine? Who defines the essentials?
2. Why was the early church unified and healthy -(Acts 2:42)? Did they consider doctrine important? Remember, we must never have unity at the expense of truth
3. Did the Apostle Paul carry on a ministry of total indoctrination -(Acts 20:26-31) or did he seek to avoid "offensive" doctrines?
4. Considering the quote from the Campus Crusade for Christ article, "We should put aside the peripheral issues that divide us." Does the Bible contain any peripheral issues? Are there any nonessential doctrines in God's Word? Is there any part of God's Word that should not be boldly proclaimed -(Acts 20:27)? We are to conform our lives to how much of God's Word -(Matthew 4:4)? Do we have the right to judge which parts of the Bible are important and which parts are not? According to 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 how much of God's word is important and profitable for the believers?
5. The Thessalonian believers were confused concerning the translation (rapture) of the Church and the coming Day of Wrath -(1 Thessalonians 4:13; 5:1-2; 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-5). If these are not important matters then why did the Lord direct Paul to write these two letters? If these are merely "peripheral issues", then why did Paul take the time to teach the Thessalonian believers concerning these doctrines? What was Paul's desire for these two believers? Did he want them ignorant concerning these matters -(1st Thessalonians 4:13)?
6. Was the Lord Jesus Christ tolerant towards the Sadducees who differed from him doctrinally concerning the resurrection -(Matthew 22:23-33), note verse 29? What was it that astonished the multitude -(Matthew 22:33; Matthew 7:28-29)?
7. What is the characteristic of a true disciple -(John 8:31-32)? When believers harmonize together according to truth, what effect will this have on the world -(John 13:25; 17:32)?
8. How do we manifest and demonstrate our love for the Lord Jesus Christ -(John 14:21-24; 15:9-10; 1st John 2:3-6; 5:2-3)? How can a pastor demonstrate that he truly loves the Master -(John 21:15-17; 1st Peter 5:2; Acts 20:28)?
9. Is God concerned about doctrinal purity -(Titus 2:7; 1st Timothy 1:3)? Should we be concerned when men deviate from sound doctrine -(1st Timothy 6:3-5; 2nd Timothy 2:16-18)? How are we told to "convict the gainsayers" -(Titus 1:9)? Why should we reprove certain men sharply -(Titus 1:13)? What should be the measure of our speaking -(Titus 2:31)? What does Jesus Christ think of false doctrine in the Church -(Revelation 2:14-16)?
10. Why did Christ Jesus give certain men to the local Church -(Ephesians 4:11-12)? According to Ephesians 4:11-16 how is true Christian unity defined -(Ephesians 4:1-6)? What is the relationship between truth and love -(Ephesians 4:15)? Consider carefully the unity of believers as described by Christ in John 17:22.
11. If we truly love our fellow believers will we warn them about false doctrine and false teachers -(Acts 20:29-31; Philippians 3:2; Colossians 1:28; see the examples of Christ Jesus in -(Matthew 7:15-20; 16:6-12; 24:4-5; Luke 12:1, 15) if we truly love someone, will we exercise proper discipline -(Hebrews 12:6; Revelation 3:19; 2nd Thessalonians 3:5-6, 14-15)? This point goes to those that criticized me of exposing the cult of Seventh Day Adventism and British-Israelism, those two in particular. To be unable to identify the very definition of what a cult is is further evidence of the disregard of Doctrine. My criticism of the "Pre-Wrath-Rapture-Babble" site is directed to the fact that if they were really about Biblical Truth, they would not deliberately post aberrant teachings and posts of such deviants from Biblical Truth.
12. According to the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, if we truly love someone, will we tell them what they need to hear if it offends and hurts them -(Mark 10:21)? Can love and hate co-exist at the same time -(Hebrews 1:9)? Was the Apostle Paul manifesting love when he wrote Galatians 1:8-9? What does love rejoice in -(1st Corinthians 13:6)? How should our love abound -(Philippians 1:9-10)?
13. If we really love people is it possible to reprove and rebuke them -(2nd Timothy 4:2)? Why do people turn to false teachers -(2nd Timothy 4:3)? When you reject the truth, what's left -(2nd Timothy 4:4)?
14. Did John, the Apostle of Love, minimize the importance of truth and doctrine -(2nd John 1-9)? How did John love Gaius -(3rd John 1)? What was John's greatest joy -(3rd John 3-4)? For what should we earnestly contend for -(Jude 3)? How are we to love -(1st John 3:18)?
15. Read Revelation 22:18-19 and compare Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; and Proverbs 30:6. Is Doctrine important? This is from an exhaustive study of Doctrine that I compiled for a class that I was teaching at a Bible college back in 1998.
Doctrine is obviously extremely important. Biblical love never minimizes the importance of Biblical Doctrine. If we truly love a person then we will desire that person to be totally indoctrinated in the Truth of God's Word, from Genesis to Revelation. This includes every jot and tittle of God's Word. In fact, true unity is only achieved together and functions according to Truth -(Ephesians 4:11-16). The only basis for the enjoyment of true Christian unity -(Ephesians 4:1-6) is a common understanding of and obedience to the Word of God. The ones who are hindering the cause of Christian unity are those who refuse to stand faithfully and obediently upon the written Word of God. When doctrine becomes the issue, truth must always prevail.
Proper application of these principles needs to be made in respect to such modern movements such as 'Promise Keepers' or ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together). Because we live in an age of deception, pluralism, the only way to spot false teachings and false teachers is to have a mastery of the Bible. Hardly a week goes by that I do not hear of some fresh idea, theme, group coming along and attempting to undermine solid Biblical Doctrine. A starting point is to remember that the word "Doctrine" means teaching.