August 27, 2008

Whose Doctrine Is It Anyway? In light of some of my recent posts, there seems to be a good bit of confusion on what doctrine means, where doctrines come from, and whether or not there can be room for personal preference, opinion, or interpretation. So, here are some answers to common questions on doctrine. 1. Are Doctrines Mentioned in Scripture? Yes. Contrary to popular opinion, doctrines were not the invention of a power-hungry Roman Empire eager to use Christianity to assert its power. Doctrines are seen as early as in the second chapter of Acts: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42) Here are a few other New Testament references to “doctrine”, or as it is also translated “teaching”. “Give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (same Greek word translated “doctrine”). 1 Tim. 4:13 “Preach the word . . . with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” 2 Tim. 4:2-3 “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching (Greek “doctrine”); persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” 2 Tim. 4:16 “…holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” Titus 1:9 2. What Is “Doctrine”? The word “doctrine” ought to be reserved for basic beliefs of the Christian faith. However, it usually means the foundational beliefs of a particular stream of Christianity. For that reason, it is necessary to divide the...
Pastor of the Universe Pastors like power. It would be absurd to pretend that pastors are immune to the allure of power. We are not. In the name of “influence” and “expanding the Kingdom”, some pastors say yes to interviews they shouldn’t have, accept roles they cannot truly fill, and answer complex issues with a certainty that no human possesses. Why? I suspect it’s because we want to be bigger than we are. It’s this subtle monster, hidden in the caverns of a pastor’s heart, that Rob Stennett addresses so well in his satirical The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher. It’s the story of a realtor in Denver who gives his business a second life thanks to the Christian Business Directory. Even though Ryan is not a Christian, he poses as one after discovering that Christians tend to give their business to other Christians without much due diligence. Eventually, Ryan realizes that his people skills and winsome charm would make him a great senior pastor. Besides, pastors are loved by the people they seem to help. So, Ryan and his wife Katherine—who is a wonderfully complex character—move to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, to plant a church. With fake credentials and a winning church growth plan, the church thrives. Fisher’s rise to becoming the America’s Most Loved Pastor is unlikely as it is unnerving. Stennett’s prose is intentionally clumsy at points, giving the story all the charm and awkwardness of an average suburban couple who makes the move to rural America. Full of impossibly long sentences and run-away thoughts, a reader will feel like he’s listening more than learning. There were definitely sections where I laughed out loud. But the humor and the quirky narrative style are disarming. The book, at its heart, is a cautionary tale. It warns of what can happen when a person...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

The Typepad Team

Recent Comments