Blogger, author and book reviewer Tim Challies has a new series: Deadly Doctrines. In his first installment he defines what doctrine is and has a helpful table. He reminds us that:
The Christian’s responsibility is clear: We are to learn God’s truth by searching God’s Word. We must carefully evaluate every teaching according to God’s unfailing standard. What passes the test is sound doctrine, and what fails the test is false doctrine.
Challies lays out eight terrible consequences of false doctrine. Discover what those consequences are….
The heaven tourism fad, there was the best-selling novel that reframed the doctrine of the Trinity. Meanwhile, the largest church in America is led by a man whose platitudes are indistinguishable from fortune cookies. But it’s not just authors and church leaders who are swerving away from the truth. Theologians and laypersons alike are abandoning traditional understandings of manhood and womanhood, of marriage and sexuality. Never has it been more important for Christians to commit themselves to rejecting false doctrine and pursuing sound doctrine, to ensure they are following teachers of truth, not peddlers of error.
In a new series of articles, we will consider false doctrine, sound doctrine, and how to train ourselves to distinguish between them. We will see how God calls us to respond to false and sound doctrine, as well as false and sound teachers. In this opening article, we will briefly define the term “doctrine,” examine the two different kinds of doctrine, and then suggest eight terrible consequences of false doctrine.
Doctrine simply means “teaching.” Doctrine describes what Christians believe based on the entirety of the Bible. Because God has given us a completed revelation of himself in the Scriptures, we can search this revelation and arrive at confident conclusions about his nature and works.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word that parallels the English word “doctrine” typically refers to truth revealed by God, and it is most often rendered as “teaching,” “learning,” or “instruction.” The word translated from the New Testament Greek has a wider range of possibilities. It can refer to either the content of the teaching or the act of teaching. Titus 1:9 captures both of these uses when it describes a qualification and task of the elder: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught [“as doctrined”], so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” It is most often translated as “doctrine(s)” or “teaching(s)” and is frequently modified by adjectives such as “sound,” “false,” “good,” or “different.”
Doctrine should be distinguished from theology, though they are closely related and often used interchangeably. In the strictest sense, theology is the study of God—his existence, his knowability, his attributes, and so on. But generally, when people refer to “theology,” they have in mind systematic theology, the logical ordering of the doctrines derived from the Bible. Doctrine, then, is the broader term that refers to the Bible’s teaching regardless of how it is categorized.
Two Kinds of Doctrine
Doctrines can be categorized in many different ways. Theologians arrange them systematically, thematically, biblically, and historically, to name just a few. Each of these arrangements presents a distinct way to collect and summarize what Christians believe to be true. From such summaries, we have derived some complicated terms like prolegomena, pneumatology, hamartiology, and soteriology.
Yet doctrine can also be categorized in the simplest terms: It is either true or false. To determine if a doctrine is true or false in its content, we can use biblical terminology to ask several questions. In origin, is it from God the Creator or from God’s creation? In authority, is it biblical or unbiblical? In consistency, is it familiar or unfamiliar? In quality, is it sound or unsound? In benefit, is it healthy or unhealthy? In value, is it profitable or unprofitable? When we have properly evaluated the doctrine, we ascertain our responsibility toward it: we must either hold to it or reject it.
Perhaps it is helpful to lay this out in a table: Continue reading
Installments in the series are at the bottom of page