Today’s postmodernity veers away from the teachings of Jesus to the person of Jesus. But if one removes His teachings, what remains of Jesus’ person and ministry?
When thinking about the word “doctrine,” we may imagine long, multivolume, dusty theological works and old parchment papers with European calligraphy. One may see medieval institutional councils, bearded and bald grandfathers, and feather quills with inked tips. But in short, doctrines are not holy guarded documents of the church, but simply the teachings of Jesus.
Who was Jesus? What is He doing now? What was He all about? What did He say, teach, and do? What did He promise? What did He teach about the beginning and the end of the world? What are the ramifications for us? These are some questions that arise about Jesus, and their answers are what biblical doctrines address.
However, there is a certain allergic response to doctrine and, in turn, another reaction the other way. Christian history records pendulum swings from minimal pietistic tendencies to maximal scholasticism; switching back and forth from revivalist praxis to academic dogmatics; from stressing “Jesus only” to the writing of official creeds. The church has bounced from one extreme to the other.
Today’s postmodernity veers away from the teachings of Jesus to the person of Jesus. But if one removes His teachings, what remains of Jesus’ person and ministry? Can Jesus retain His character and love if we mute the Bible of all His teachings? Who is Jesus without the Sermon on the Mount? Who is Jesus without the Creation, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the Second Advent, just to name a few?
Following the Adventist tradition of going back to the Bible in times of difficulty and favoring the particular number, let’s look at seven brief and convenient insights on doctrine (though there are more):
1. People were astonished at Jesus’ doctrine (Matt. 7:28).
2. Doctrine has a heavenly origin: God the Father (John 7:16, 17). 3. Doctrine involves freedom from sin (Rom. 6:17, 18).
4. Doctrine was central for the early church (Acts 2:42).
5. Institutional religion was against doctrine (Acts 5:27-29).
6. The eschewing of sound doctrine is a sign of the last days (2 Tim. 4:2-4).
7. The church must endeavor for deeper doctrines (Heb. 6:1).
One can reread these same points and replace “doctrine” with “teachings” for more clarity. As we read this month’s issue, I hope these core teachings may reveal more about our wonderful Savior. May they continue to astonish us, reveal their heavenly origin, point to freedom from sin, revive us with primitive godliness, protect against institutionalization and eschatological deception, and deepen our faith in the Teacher of these teachings, the Lord Jesus Christ.