Ours is a strange world, indeed. It seems that we live in a time when many people are looking for spirituality, but they want spirituality without truth. More and more, I am reading that people want devotion devoid of any doctrine. I even hear ministers today declaring that doctrine only leads to division and that we should seek a form of spirituality that is all-inclusive and leave doctrine behind.
While on the surface such a sentiment might seem inviting, below the calm waters of this tempting idea lie the rocks that will shipwreck the faith of any who venture into this dangerous area.
Make no mistake about it: those who cry for a dogma of no doctrine are not themselves devoid of doctrine; they are simply asking you to trade your once strongly-held beliefs for their strongly-held belief. Their doctrine of inclusion sounds inviting until one begins to look beyond the fluff and discovers the vitriolic attacks that are aimed at any who are not accepting of their own doctrine. It reminds me of the tolerance group in Australia who produced a pamphlet outlining the things they would not tolerate. We may chuckle at that, but sadly, many of us buy into the same concept, believing ourselves to be open and tolerant when really we are guilty of just trading one doctrine for the next.
It is impossible to have a belief system that is devoid of any doctrine. Such a belief system is a logical self-contradiction. The real question is not, “are we going to have a standard by which we judge things,” but rather, “is the standard by which we judge things adequate?”
According to the Bible, there are but two entities in the spiritual realm vying for our allegiance. On the one hand we have God, whose express purpose is to give us a full, purposeful, meaningful life (both abundant and eternal–See John 10:10). On the other hand is Satan, whose express purpose is to ruin and destroy us (See John 10:10). According to the Bible, the very nature of these two beings are exact opposites. God, for instance, can never lie (Hebrews 6:18), while Satan can never tell the truth (John 8:44). Which one do you think is safer to believe?
Here’s what the God who cannot lie says about that: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12, NIV). Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. The gate is wide and the road is wide that leads to hell, and many people enter through that gate. But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. Only a few people find that road” (Matthew 7:13-14, NCV).
Jesus, speaking of that narrow road, said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. The only way to the Father is through me” (John 14:6, NCV). The question is not, do you like that statement, nor is it even, do you agree with it. The question is, is it adequate? Is there evidence that supports his claim?
I believe there is. No other religious leader rose from the dead. None. Zero. But Jesus did and for me, that forms the adequate foundation for the evidence of the truth of his claims. That’s doctrine upon which a solid faith can be built.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. He can be heard on the radio on WMVV 90.7 (FM) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday nights.