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Chapter 12 - Doctrinal Contributions
'You can believe in whatsoever you like, but the truth remains the truth, no matter how sweet the lie may taste.' - Michael Bassey Johnson
Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. - Matthew 16:12
Doctrine (teachings) can carry a powerful influence. They are often presented with authority and can even press in on one if made with clever speech or compelling power. Like a powerful tidal current it can draw some into its conformity. This was what happened to Peter and Barnabas. They found it difficult to resist the social power of those carrying the doctrines of the Pharisees.
There are those who tout their intellectual accomplishments plumbing the depths of arcane writings to summon the power of bluster to bully others into compliance with their doctrines. While many on this path of elevating their own reason stop at the smug sense of superiority of the Pharisees, historically many completely left Christianity on the progressive path of Renaissance humanism, enlightenment, down to the liberalism of today.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, - Romans 1:22
Doctrine (teachings) can come from a humble heart seeking to point the way to a closer walk with God or they can come from one whose credentials and accomplishments testify to the approval of men. We know that there will be false teachers.
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. - Acts 20:29
The Christian is well advised to avoid being taken in by often loudly and forcefully presented claims (doctrines) that may be misleading. The Bereans give us a good example of how to consider the seeming avalanche of doctrinal claims.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. - Acts 17:11
One of the hallmark characteristics of unhealthy doctrine is its presentation as something that has to be accepted. Truth is the only thing that can withstand scrutiny. The Christian has the advantage of the Spirit of truth.
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. - John 14:17
Here again Christianity administered as an organizational system runs into problems. A system will maintain a doctrinal 'package' that is essentially inviolate. Some churches have a package that is closer to truth than others. While the question of how accurate a particular 'package' is remains, there is a larger problem.
Whereas the object and purpose of our instruction and charge is love, which springs from a pure heart and a good (clear) conscience and sincere (unfeigned) faith. - 1 Timothy 1:5 AMP
Much of Christianity has lost the understanding that teaching (doctrine) is supposed to accomplish changes in the lives of its members. This relational engagement all too often has been replaced with lectures reiterating doctrinal dictums that seem abstract and have little traction in the actual life of a believer.
This may be that like the teacher who blames the student for failing, the church often blames its members for failing to figure out how to apply the word to their own lives. In all fairness, some church leaders have a sincere desire to aid their members in spiritual growth or recovery from fleshly entanglements, but are unable to because of the constraints of the system they administer.
Other church leaders attempt to focus on rule following as a means of spiritual growth and castigate their members fro failing to overcome their sin. It can be helpful to consider the nature of church leadership.
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: - Hebrews 17a (KJV)
Obey = peitho = persuade, convince
them that have the rule = hegeomai = a chosen leader
submit = hupeiko = cessation of resistance
Alternatively = Stop resisting and allow yourselves to be persuaded by those you have chosen to follow.
God favors those who seek truth.
RUN TO and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now and take notice! Seek in her broad squares to see if you can find a man [as Abraham sought in Sodom], one who does justice, who seeks truth, sincerity, and faithfulness; and I will pardon [Jerusalem--for one uncompromisingly righteous person]. - Jeremiah 5:1 (AMP)
'Seeking' is an interesting word. It implies both initiative and evaluation. There is also an implication of progression such that false starts, wrong turns, and blind alleys can be expected along a path of seeking. Unfortunately this process is not very compatible with systems that seek to control and regulate.
Most of Christianity is presented in various franchise brands (denominations). There is a requirement to take an entire 'package' of doctrine and settle in. This does not leave much room for seeking. The Christian is expected to grow to maturity, yet often encounters systems that claim completion just as the Pharisees thought they had everything nailed down.
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: - Ephesians 4:15
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. - Matthew 23:13
One way to avoid entanglement with the doctrine of the Pharisees is to recognize that if you think you have arrived, you havenít.
Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:12
Doctrines put forth that assert one has arrived at Christian completion create a religion of superficiality which is often manifest by worldliness, foolish talk, self-deception, and ignoring the needs of others.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. - James 1:26-27
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