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Does Doctrine Trump Everything Else?

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I have been asked on a number of occasions if doctrine trumps every other consideration, and every situation, and every human belief, and every emotional response? Well?

Yes, it does.

Nothing else matters.

It surprises me, though I should expect it, that so many Christians need to ask such a question! It is so biblically cut-and-dried that the question is nonsense. We need to understand what doctrine really is. When we know that, the question should evaporate and never be asked again. Really, the question reveals a combination of biblical ignorance and a nagging belief in humanism (which is based on evolution), even in Christians who outwardly say they do not believe in evolution.

Some will always say I am being arrogant, or that I should put my argument more delicately, so as not to offend. I reject that approach! I cannot and will not skirt-around what God has declared openly and strongly. It is up to critics to put their house in order, not for me to tread tenderly because of their sinful ideas!

Do I care for what they say and think? No, I do not. Do I care that they claim to be Christians and yet disobey God’s word? Yes, I do. But, if after counsel they continue, then I must shun them if the issue is big enough. It is essential NOT to consider myself or the feelings of others when it comes to true doctrine. This is because God’s word, and not human feelings, is the benchmark.

What is Doctrine?

As I have shown in my extensive article on Doctrine (A-081. Also see O-012 and O-135), ‘doctrine’ is EVERYTHING in scripture. If there is ignorance about this, there will be ignorance in other matters, too. Thus, I would expect Christians who have erroneous views on doctrine, to have many more erroneous views that damage their faith and beliefs as well as those around them.

To put it bluntly, I do not care what your views are on doctrine, if they do not square with what scripture says. I will not even argue my case if the biblical position is clear: I will simply state scripture. This means the critic MUST conform to God’s word; he has no right to his own versions of scripture. Nor do I. And, if necessary, I will call him an heretic. And, as I have said elsewhere, I do not even care about what MY views are, if they are not scriptural!

The ONLY thing that matters is – what GOD says. Everything else is irrelevant... emotions, philosophies, political theories, environmental idiocies, sexual excesses, superficial arguments, deep arguments, sentiments... they are as nothing to Almighty God. If they do not arise from, and return to, His word, they stand condemned. Those who think otherwise are free to argue against me – but be very careful that you have rock-solid biblical reasons for doing so. Sadly, most critics tend to just call me names. This does not bother me, because I am used to it!

Do you really believe God cares what we think, enough to cause Him to change His mind and do what we muse over? Of course He does not! He charges us with grave sin when we try to avoid, get rid of, tamper with, or replace, His word with our own. His word trumps everything that exists. Those who disagree are free to do so – but they are condemned by God and judged to be wicked. Readers should beware, too, for the word ‘doctrines’ (plural) is only used of false ‘doctrines of devils’. The word ‘doctrine’ (singular) is applied to all of scripture because all of scripture is unified and one, and is useful in every one of its aspects:

"All scripture (is) given by inspiration of God, and (is) profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16)

Interpretation

It should be understood that this scripture/doctrine (see A-081 for reasons why I equate all of scripture with doctrine), has ONLY ONE interpretation. No, I do NOT mean MY interpretation. I mean the interpretation given by scripture itself. In most cases this is clear. Vagueness is found only in a few verses, and this is due to our own fallibility and ignorance. (See O-091, A-190 and A-465).

You will note that the above verse tells us that doctrine covers everything necessary. Therefore, it trumps whatever human beings say or claim (everything!). That also goes for harmful theological theories. So, there is only ONE true interpretation.

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20)

Many Christians dislike and ignore this text, because they have their favourite erroneous ideas! They prefer to adhere to these than to listen to God’s word. This is to their detriment, and severe cases bring coals of judgment upon their heads for trying to change God’s perfect word into an human mish-mash. The meddling, personalised approach to scripture, is why there are so many denominations and clashing groups. But, no matter what the meddlers think or do, genuine doctrine always trumps their illogical or sinful personalised interpretations.

In our current situation, doctrine trumps the badly formed, ignorant positions concerning the big questions about Islam, homosexuality, environmentalism, government controls, the EU, and so on. There are many Christian views on these subjects, but only one can be true! That is, if it is based on scripture. Thus, I do not care what fellow believers think on these topics. What I care about is what God says. His principles run through scripture like steel rods and trump all and every personalised ideas and bad ‘interpretations’!

How-To

Not every Christian needs detailed knowledge of Hebrew and koine Greek, but they DO need to understand that these languages have been translated into English, so the words in English may not be exact renditions of the ancient language, but the closest. In this task translators must sift through sometimes many possible meanings for a single word in the original language.

Once the translation has been made, Christian teachers must go back to the translation with Hebrew and Greek at their sides. Then, where words, phrases or sections seem to be unclear, they can check for the best interpretation. A ‘translation’ picks out only one meaning. This is obvious, because otherwise the Bible would be just one long series of possible meanings, which would make reading it very difficult. An ‘interpretation’ checks that it is the best possible meaning given the context. This is definitely the task of all who teach others what scripture says. Sadly, many ‘teachers’ rely on spiritualising texts, and this is usually way off the mark and very vague on detail and truth.

Alongside these tasks is the business of having a growing knowledge of Hebraisms, ancient history, nuances, and so on. These help to give a rounded picture of situations in which Bible books were written and how to decipher passages that are based on ancient Hebrew practices. I still have a long way to go in accruing this knowledge, as does every Bible scholar I know of, so it is never-ending.

This ongoing process is sometimes quite arduous, but always fruitful... but all personalised ideas and ‘interpretations’ must be cast aside, or they will be useless. Constant study in this way enhances reading and conclusions, research and writing, as the overall picture becomes more detailed every day. With such a background heresy is often very easy to detect – but not always. Bas theology is also recognised, as are bad teachers. But, true doctrine ALWAYS trumps what they say and do. And ALWAYS trumps our flawed emotions and partial understanding. Never think otherwise!

© December 2015

Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

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