Thursday, May 31, 2007

Discerning Doctrine, Part 2

Part 1 is here. Download the MP3 here. The rest of the messages are available at the New Attitude blog.

Again, my post-conference thoughts are bold and italicized.

4) What must we agree upon? Some errors are more severe than others; some less. (To which errors I referred, I'm not quite certain. Errors in doctrine would be my guess) Don't have to agree on all doctrines.

How does one evaluate a doctrine?
1) How clear is it in scripture? (The Bible makes it quite clear that belief in Jesus is one, but not only, requirement to enter heaven)
2) How clear do others think it is? (Majority of Christians agree that the point above is quite clear)
---> 3) How near is it to the Gospel? (I actually did draw the arrow in my notes, because I found this to be quite a good point. Examine how relevant the doctrine is to the gospel message. For example, belief in Jesus as the Messiah is the core of the gospel, so that makes it a primary doctrine which must be agreed upon. However, millenial eschatology really does not have much effect on bringing souls over to God's side, so people should amiably disagree.)
4) What would effects of disagreement be?

Must agree on 3 things: God/Bible/gospel.
A) God - must believe in the One True God, who is morally perfected, uncreated, and triune (among other things).
B) Bible is the unerrant Word of God; it is how to know the truth about God.
C) Gospel - Jesus became human to save the world.

5) What may we disagree on?
Practical matters. Paul and Barnabas parted company in Acts 15. Don't be distracted by disagreements. Examine how long the problem has been around, and how those people are doing. One of the examples he cited was the uprising of female ordination in some circles. Unlike other issues such as infant baptism, this is a practice that is relatively new. Mark assessed that while paedobaptist churches (as a whole) were doing relatively well in spite of that practice, doing unbiblical things like ordaining females or practicing homosexuals seems to correlate with a steady decline of membership in those churches. And yes, I know that correlation ≠ causality.

6) How to disagree well?
Go beyond what's said. In other words, don't get caught up on the semantics of how the other person phrased his last argument. Hear what the person meant. What goals do we share? Don't alienate; encourage. What can I learn from the other person? Don't be interested in winning the argument rather than learning the truth. Welcome correction as an enemy of pride. For matters that are not directly or strongly addressed in the Bible, how do you know, O man, if you possess the ultimate truth? It is not worth it to divide over issues that are petty in the grand scheme of things. For example, your beliefs on millenial eschatology might differ from mine; who knows who's right? If it's not clearly stated in the Bible...

So there you have it. In addition to posting my notes on Al Mohler's message, I might also post my general thoughts on the conference itself.

Related Posts:

5 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Ewokgirl

    I'm enjoying reading your notes from the conference. I really appreciate reading this as a Southern Baptist, knowing that you are Church of Christ. There's an online board I've visited for years, and the Church of Christ people there have been so dogmatic, even telling me I'm not saved because I worship in a Baptist church. Nevermind that we agree on the same major doctrinal issues.

    So, I truly appreciate being introduced to someone from the CoC who doesn't automatically assume that rest of us aren't Christians because our denomination is different. We all agree that Jesus is the Messiah, he died and rose again, and salvation is only through him.

    Most of the other issues (the ones that aren't sin, that is) are not that important.

  • JunkMale

    I'm glad to know that I've been one CoC person who hasn't instantly condemned you because you worship in a Baptist church. I will tell you that I haven't always thought this way. Before the CoC, I was Baptist, and I pretty much thought anyone a Christian who identified him/herself as one. Then I was a part of a CoC offshoot that was totally on the opposite end of the spectrum (some in that group even labeled the CoC as apostate). Now that I'm actually in a CoC, I'm somewhere in a happy medium.

    You'll probably find another "nice" CoC person in Harmony, and another in Harmony's dad, who has a whole blog dedicated to Christian unity.

  • Myfriendconnie

    I don't tink "how those people are doing" (#5) is a good indicator of what pleases the Lord. "Broad is the way that leads to destruction."

  • Myfriendconnie

    Oh great! I meant "think"! Now I feel reel dumm.

  • JunkMale


    I agree, and I do have hesitations about saying that everyone's okay because they have good attendance numbers (one measure of "how they're doing"). I personally know that a group can have big numbers, yet be white-washed tombs inside. It's all a matter of "discernment" and common God-given sense, you see.