...are the ones that make the biggest difference


Pawn shop

My wife and I recently joined a small group through the church plant, and we met with them for the first time on Sunday night. It was good, but long - we got hooked up with some talkers - but then again, we had a lot to share about last week's events and another couple, who recently had a child, are thinking about moving & starting a new job, so we had a lot to cover. For the summer, we're going to be reading through Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning. We picked it up Sunday afternoon shortly before our meeting, so I only had a chance to read through about half of the first chapter. What I read was pretty good, and the point of the book seems to focus on moving beyond mere belief in Christ, to really & truly trusting Him in all things, particularly in the hard times.

But there was one line which referred (if I remember it correctly; I don't have the book with me today) the "dusty old pawn shop of doctrine." 'Doctrine' may have been plural, but either way, this phrase is pregnant with meaning. Doctrine is outdated & obsolete, something to be cast off or even sold. It is detritus. Perhaps if you are a collector of antiques, you may wish to brave the ancient dust to browse through these decrepit works, but only so long as you realize their value lies solely in the curious fact that people once considered these withered trinkets something important, something useful. We have, thankfully, grown beyond the need of such baubles into a mature, doctrine-less faith. We are the diet soda of religion.

I wish I could say that I don't understand this antipathy towards doctrine and creed, but to a certain extent, I do. It is born of a desire to be open, inclusive, to eschew judgment and condemnation - things Jesus obviously had a desire for as well. But any reading of the Gospels that focuses only on this "positive" side of Christ is woefully deficient. Even a brief perusal of the Sermon on the Mount shows the error of such thinking. Jesus does not deny the law, He expands it so that it is no longer a mere external prohibition. Jesus does not promote inclusiveness - He promotes holiness; throwing out the tasteless salt or cutting off the sinful member can hardly be seen as support for a doctrine-free openness.

One cannot escape doctrine - to claim Christ as Lord is to make a doctrinal statement. To call oneself a Christian, to pray, to preach - these are all statements about what you believe, about doctrine. This is where my understanding breaks down - why is doctrine bad? Why can't people recognize their own doctrines, which they certainly hold to be as infallible as anything promulgated by Pope or Council?

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