On this program the hosts are continuing our new series, taking a look at how the drama gives birth to the doctrines we are to believe. As they unpack these key concepts, they’ll help us to see that every belief system is rooted in some kind of narrative or story that ends up forming a person’s core values, goals, habits, and yes, doctrines.
Many Christians today have uncritically accepted the idea that “doctrine is irrelevant,” without even realizing that this very idea is itself a doctrine. In fact, the very moment one turns away from any particular belief or opinion, other beliefs rush in to fill the void. So everyone has doctrine, but the question is whether our beliefs and assumptions about God or the world in which we live are true, false, or somewhere in between. “Finding Yourself in God’s Story” is our series and the importance of doctrine is our focus on this episode of the White Horse Inn.
“Folks, what we’re saying here is doctrine matters. The doctrines come out of the drama. The drama is basically the story you’re living in, whether you know it or not – the story you take to be true. You may not have even reflected on whether it’s true or not, but it’s your default setting. You’re assuming certain things are true about the world. This is how your life fits in with the life of other people around you. This is the meaning of history. This is what the story is all about and you’re living your life in the light of that. Then, the doctrines that come out of it are the reasonable implications of that story and that shapes your experience and the way you live in the world. That’s what we’re saying. If it’s not going to be Christianity, it’s going to be some other narrative. It’s going to be some other drama that shapes you. If the Christian drama isn’t what you’re getting regularly in church, if this isn’t the way you’re reading the Bible and getting it deep down into you, even to the point, as Paul says, where we are singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs so that the work of Christ may dwell in us richly, then other stories are going to do that. You can’t just drift. You can’t just say, well, I tip my hat to a couple of doctrines and yeah, I believe Jesus died for my sins, and not immerse yourself in that story from Genesis to revelation and reflect on the doctrines that come out of it.
“If you don’t invest in that Christian, biblical drama and its doctrines, you will, by default, be shaped by the drama and the doctrines that Madison Avenue is selling to you every day that you’re getting from CNN or MSNBC or Fox. They’re going to shape you. They’re going to tell you who you are and it’s not going to be in Christ. This is the greatest story ever told and it happens to be the true story and Jesus proved that by being raised on the third day. No other drama has that lynchpin and has that kind of empirical validity that you can analyze, that you can approach and look at and contrast with the baseless stories that the world is telling us every day.” – Michael Horton
Term to Learn: Importance of DoctrineAs individual believers and as churches, we are always prone to fall away unless we are brought back by the Spirit to the Word. Therefore, we always need a theology grounded in that Word in dependence on the Spirit. The study of Christian doctrine is always an indispensable enterprise for the faith and practice of the whole church—not only for academics or even pastors, but for the whole communion of saints. Everyone who confesses the creed should always be growing in his or her understanding of its depth and implications.
The alternative to this growth in the knowledge and grace of Christ is not pious experience or good works but gradual assimilation to the powers of this passing evil age. The biblical drama plots our character “in Adam” by our natural birth in this present evil age. Nevertheless, “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1:3-5).
(From Michael Horton’s, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, p. 26)