Doctrine

Doctrine Worth Fighting For

From Voice, Jan/Feb 2015. Used by permission.

A few years ago I read this headline in my local newspaper. As a pastor, it grabbed my attention immediately. It said: Instruments Stolen From Five Manhattan Beach Churches. It told the story of how five local churches had been robbed in the period of one week. They took guitars, keyboards, ukuleles, drums, a tambourine, a mixing machine, audio and video equipment, projectors, laptop computers, microphones and speakers. They cleaned out those churches. The worst part is that it seems that the thieves got access to the church through unlocked windows and doors. They just walked right in!

I would like to suggest to you that as sad as it is that a church was robbed partially due to its own negligence, there is a greater danger that is facing the church—the danger of giving up the foundational doctrines that undergird our faith. And much like the robberies in those churches, the Church and each of us as members of the body of Christ are too often leaving theological and doctrinal windows and doors open allowing the thieves in. Read more about Doctrine Worth Fighting For

Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 3

(Read the series.)

Objections to Discernment

Despite the clear mandate given throughout the Scriptures concerning the necessity for biblical discernment and critique, most continue to be critical of the whole concept. Ironically, those who preach most tenaciously the need for tolerance are themselves intolerant of those who seek to faithfully follow God’s directives in this matter. Let’s briefly identify and analyze some of the most common objections often heard protesting the need for discernment.

1. What right do we have to judge others?

Some claim that the best known verse of Scripture in America is Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Most who recite this command do so without the advantage of having ever read it in context. If they were to do so they would see that the Lord is not calling a moratorium on examining the lives and teachings of others; He simply wants us to do it in the correct way. The Lord tells us to first judge ourselves. When that has been done properly we are in a position to help others with their sins and false beliefs (Matt 7:1-5). Read more about Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 3

Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 1

Discernment in our times

We live in an environment in which it is most difficult to stand for the faith. Not only will those who attempt to be on the front lines of discernment face the guns of those in opposition, but they may be hit by “friendly fire” as well.

For example: I recently wrote what I thought was a rather innocuous article expressing a high view of Scripture including a belief in its sufficiency. I was nevertheless surprised to receive a quick email rebuke by a pastor who also claimed to believe in the inerrancy, authority and sufficiency of the Bible and who ultimately accused me of taking what he called a “biblical charismatic” view. When I inquired as to how that could be, since I believe God speaks to us today only through Scripture and charismatics believe God speaks through means beyond the written Word, he did not reply.

I did not mean to imply to this pastor that I reject general revelation in which “the heavens are telling of the glory of God” (Ps 19:1-6), but that specific, authoritative revelation for this church age is confined to the Old and New Testaments. God is not adding new revelation or inspired texts to supplement the canon of Scripture. I believe that such revelations are unnecessary today because God has promised that the Scriptures are “adequate [to] equip [us] for every good work” (2 Tim 3:17). Read more about Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 1

The Importance of Being Important

Republished with permission from Theologically Driven.

Christianity consists of beliefs and practices. There are certain ways one must view God, himself, and the world at large, and there are certain ways one must think, feel, and act as a result of those views. Throughout church history, Christians have debated what beliefs and practices are proper for the believer. That debate continues today.

Another debate has also occurred throughout church history—what should be done with those who disagree on the proper beliefs and practices for a believer? While it is not possible to answer either of those questions in this post, I would like to address three errors relevant to this debate that are common in conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism today and see two ways in which they manifest themselves.

Inversionism

Over time, it became clear to the church that some beliefs and practices were so central to Christianity that denying them meant denying Christianity itself. The items on this list have expanded as controversies have necessitated Christians to clarify their doctrine, but it includes things like the deity of Christ, the Trinity, the bodily resurrection, and the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture.

However, some act as if these essential truths are less important than other truths. Though one might be wrong on a fundamental doctrine, if he agrees with someone on other issues, then the fundamental error will be overlooked. Thus, lesser truths and matters are treated as more important than essential truths and matters. Read more about The Importance of Being Important

When We Don't Agree

Read Part 1.

The insistence that all things are essential (for the purpose of God’s glory) should not be mistaken for an insistence that the believer is responsible for the agreement or disagreement of others. When Paul mandates in 1 Corinthians 1:10 that believers should agree (or literally, speak the same thing) and that there be no divisions (schisms) among them, he is not suggesting that believers should try to control the thinking of others, but that believers should conform their thinking to the wisdom of God (1 Cor 2:5). In so doing, believers will become more likeminded and will better reflect the unity that is already theirs in Christ (Eph 4:1-3).

Where there is disagreement among believers, it seems there is one basic cause: fleshliness (1 Cor 1:11, 3:1-4). In James 4:1, James echoes Paul’s observation: “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” There it is in a nutshell. Where we have conflict, it is because I, or you, or both of us are walking in the flesh rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to bear fruit in us (see Gal 5:16-26).

But where there are disagreements among believers due to fleshliness, the prescriptions are worth noting. The “fleshly” believer is called to conform his thinking to God’s wisdom (1 Cor 2:11-13, 16) and to bear his own burden (not causing burden to others, e.g., Gal 6:5), but it is not the “spiritual” believer’s responsibility to enforce that. Rather, the “spiritual” believer is to bear patiently with the burdens of the weak, and to maintain humility (Gal 6:1-3). Both parties are cautioned not to go beyond what is written (1 Cor 4:6). In matters beyond what is written believers have freedom (even freedom to differ in opinions). So while all things are essential to the glory of God, there are areas in which He has not revealed details, and we do well to avoid dogmatism in these areas. Read more about When We Don't Agree

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