Three sample doctrines The Trinity The deity of Christ Salvation by faith alone Calvinism The inerrancy of Scripture Dispensationalism Nature of God Nature of salvation Nature of Bible
Doctrine vs. Scripture Scripture: God’s thoughts using God’s words Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 1 Cor 2:12-13 Doctrine: Scriptural ideas using human words Examples: “Trinity”, “Inerrancy of Scripture” not found in the Bible itself
Doctrine vs. Scripture Why do we need doctrine? Why not just use Scripture’s words? Doctrine serves four key functions: It summarizes It harmonizes It corrects errors It provides a system For teaching For interpretation
Doctrine vs. Scripture How authoritative is doctrine? It is based on Scripture It is the product of much investigation We shouldn’t decide to reinvent the wheel lightly Not all doctrines are created equal Some are more central than others Some are better established than others However Only Scripture’s words are inerrant Scripture does not present a harmonized account Scripture does not contradict itself … … but the human writers didn’t have to know how to reconcile it
Doctrine vs. Scripture Doctrine wraps Scriptural ideas into a tidy package The value of having a box to put ideas in Having to rebuild a box occasionally
The progress of doctrine Doctrine developed historically Roman Catholic heresies Attack on the Bible Arian heresy Nature of God Nature of salvation Nature of Bible 33 AD 400 AD 1500 AD 1900 AD
The progress of doctrine Doctrine developed historically Recall: Scripture does not contradict itself, but the human writers didn’t have to know how to reconcile it Nature of Bible not always clearly understood Nature of salvation not always clearly understood Nature of God not always clearly understood Nature of God Nature of salvation Nature of Bible 33 AD 400 AD 1500 AD 1900 AD
The progress of doctrine Doctrine developed historically … until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph 4:13) Recall: Scripture does not contradict itself, but the human writers didn’t have to know how to reconcile it Scripture contains all the data It takes hundreds of years to work out the consequences of the Scriptural statements What is yet to come? Nature of God Nature of salvation Nature of Bible 33 AD 400 AD 1500 AD 1900 AD
The progress of doctrine What are we to make of heretical statements in the early church? We are accountable for the light we’ve been given If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. John 15:22 From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. Luke 12:48 If we don’t know the truth clearly, we can trust God to judge our hearts fairly. If we know the truth clearly and reject it, we will be held accountable.
Challenges to orthodox doctrine Since doctrine is not inerrant, we must expect that it will occasionally be wrong … but probably not often!
Challenges to orthodox doctrine Three reasons for doctrinal error Don’t know the doctrine Don’t realize the importance of the doctrine Deliberately oppose the doctrine
Challenges to orthodox doctrine Two reasonable responses when someone challenges a doctrine “That is counter to standard doctrine. I am not going to listen to it. I will warn others that it is not standard doctrine.” “That is counter to standard doctrine. I am going to investigate it Biblically. If it is not Biblical, I will warn others that it is counter to Scripture.” One unreasonable (but common) response “That is counter to standard doctrine. I am not going to listen to it or investigate it. I will warn others that it is counter to Scripture.”
Deliberately challenging doctrine Recall: Scriptural truth in human words Summarize Harmonize Correct errors Systematize
Types of challenges
Reintroduce an idea formerly rejected by the church as an error