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Why All the Fuss About Doctrine?

Simply stated, a doctrine is something that is taught.  Every Christian believes in doctrine.  The real question is not "Does doctrine really matter?" but "Does believing the right and correct doctrine really matter?".  The answer to that question is a resounding yes.  I will go into greater detail in a future post on what impact reformed doctrine has had in my own life.  Today I would like to point out what can happen when your doctrine is not correct and is not based on the whole council of scripture.

Some of you may have heard of a man named Brian McLaren.  McLaren is one of the founders of and a leader in what is known as the Emergent Church movement.  He has written several books on the emergent philosophy.  His latest book, A New Kind of Christianity, is a perfect example of what happens when someone who says they love God refuses to submit their beliefs (or doctrine) to the whole council of scripture.  You can read reviews of the book at Tim Challies blog HERE or a more in depth review by Kevin DeYoung at his blog (Part One, Part Two).  I strongly recommend that you read these reviews on McLaren's book.

Some quotes from Tim Challies:

It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote about Brian McLaren and got in trouble. Reflecting on seeing him speak at a nearby church, I suggested that he appears to love Jesus but hate God. Based on immediate and furious reaction, I quickly retracted that statement. I should not have done so. I believed it then and I believe it now. And if it was true then, how much more true is it upon the release of his latest tome A New Kind of Christianity. In this book we finally see where McLaren’s journey has taken him; it has taken him into outright, rank, unapologetic apostasy. He hates God. Period.

It would take more time than I’d be willing to give it to offer a point-by-point explanation of what responses McLaren proposes for each of the ten questions or to document the ramifications of his new theology. He denies the Fall, he denies original sin, he denies human depravity, he denies hell. And that is just in the first few pages. Needless to say, all of this leads him to a radically unbiblical view of the cross and the purpose and work of Jesus.

 Here, in A New Kind of Christianity it’s as if McLaren is screaming “I hate God!” at the top of his lungs. And swarms of Christians are looking at him with admiration and saying, “See how that guy loves God?” I don’t know what McLaren could do to make the situation more clear. In fact, his book is nearly indistinguishable from many of the de-conversion narratives that are all the rage today. Compare it with Bart Ehrman’s God’s Problem and you’ll see many of the same arguments and the same misgivings; you’ll find, though, that Ehrman is at least more honest. He at least has the integrity to walk away from faith altogether rather than reinventing God in his own image.

McLaren says he would prefer atheism over belief in the God so many of us see in Scripture. Well, he is not far off. This new kind of Extreme Makeover: God Edition Christianity is no Christianity at all. It is not a faith made in the image of Jesus Christ, but a faith made in the image of a man who despises God and who is hell-bent on dragging others along with him as he becomes his own god.

At the end of the day, if your doctrine is not rooted in the firm, enduring bedrock of the Word of God, then you are free to make God into anything you want him to be.  This is what McLaren's new book is all about.  Making God into a god who desires the same things McLaren desires and loves the things McLaren desires. For all intents and purposes, McLaren has set himself up as god.

True doctrine lines up with the revelation of who God reveals Himself to be in scripture, not who we wish Him to be.  We change to line up with God, not the other way around.

I encourage you to examine your own beliefs and doctrines.  Do they accurately reveal who God really is?  Or do you just believe in a god you like or one your parents passed down to you?  It really is a matter of eternal life or death.

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