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ReVision

The Cure for Doctrinal Revulsion

Dislike doctrine? Here's some help.

The Mind of Christ in His Word: Part 2 (1)

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia – remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. 1 Timothy 1.3, 4

Doctrinal revulsion?
The concern is growing, among certain Christian leaders, that the followers of Christ in our day have lost their taste for doctrine.

Indeed, it does appear, in many sectors of the Church, that a strain of doctrinal revulsion has infected the Body of Christ. You may be feeling some of that yourself. Consider, for a moment, your gut reaction to the word itself: doctrine. If what you sense is a kind of aversion, whether mild or vehement, or if feelings associated with irrelevance, arrogance, stodginess, or intellectual smugness stir within your breast, then even you may be experiencing the initial stages of this occasionally-recurring malady.

The Body of Christ has endured this affliction in the past and has always shaken it off and grown stronger as the antidote to doctrinal revulsion has been applied in a timely and relevant manner. For if our minds will not be shaped by sound doctrine, according to the mind of Christ which we possess, then they will be shaped by various winds of doctrine, wafting in from the unbelieving world to blow us off course in our journey with the Lord (Eph. 4.14).

Doctrinal revulsion among the members of the Body of Christ is a bit like an immune-deficiency disorder in the human body. The Church needs sound doctrine to thrive and bear fruit. When doctrinal revulsion sets in, the Body of Christ begins to lose its defenses against lies, half-truths, and outright deceptions, and it lacks the strength to carry out its mission in the world. Its focus tends to turn from Christ and His Kingdom to individuals and their needs or preferences. The vision of the Kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven gives way to a vision of whatever I want, and how I can achieve this and still continue to believe.

This is a condition contrary to the purposes of Christ, of course, and inimical to the development of a renewed mind; and it begins with neglect of sound doctrine, which is an early symptom of doctrinal revulsion.

Overcoming doctrinal revulsion
So the way to overcome this contrary condition is to follow the advice of the ancient Celtic Christian preachers, who taught that the cure for a contrary condition is to apply the contrary of that condition in steady doses. “Contraries are by contraries cured,” the old Celts insisted, and they demonstrated the power of that remedy over four centuries by bringing revival, renewal, and awakening to the Church and the pagan world throughout Europe.

Doctrine derives from applying the mind of Christ to the study of His Word. In the study of doctrine, we gather under a variety of headings the truth we have gleaned from our ongoing study of Scripture, with a view to answering key questions concerning primary truths, such as: Who is God? What kind of creature is a human being? What must we do to be saved? What is the Church? Which ethics does God approve? And so forth.

Doctrine, as Paul believed, is nothing less than good stewardship of the Word of God. Sound doctrine discovers the teaching of Scripture, communicates that teaching clearly and faithfully, and applies that teaching to the work of sanctification and the progress of Christ’s Kingdom. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to ensure that the sound doctrine he had begun to teach there would continue after him. A grasp of sound doctrine is essential for the renewing of the mind and for growing to maturity in the mind of Christ.

Instead of pushing sound doctrine away, or simply ignoring it, we should be daily renewing our minds in the doctrine of Christ that brings life, health, and strength to our soul.

The challenge to sound doctrine
The danger today, as in every age, is that there are those who, lacking a taste for doctrine, will come up with something else to teach rather than sound doctrine, which since it is not sound doctrine will, to one degree or another, be false doctrine. These false teachers have, in times past, been very eloquent and persuasive. Their teachings have seemed to meet people right where they were, scratching some intellectual or emotional itch, and insisting that the Christian life is best understood and enjoyed according to their peculiar explanation of the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

Such teaching, however, always has the effect of diverting the minds of the faithful away from Jesus to themselves, leading them to scour the Bible for teachings that reinforce their interests and needs, as they bend and wrest the Word of God to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3.15, 16). Meanwhile, the purveyors of false doctrine gain notoriety, prestige, and a following eager to support them in their teaching, since by so doing they are only supporting their own selfish interests, at the expense of Christ, His Kingdom, and His glory.

Paul said that false teachers taught contrary to sound doctrine (1 Tim. 1.10), as they made things up out of their own minds to further their own interests and agendas. Such teachers are a threat to sound doctrine, and thus to the health of the Body of Christ, because they woo people away from simple trust in the plain teaching of Scripture.

As then, so it has been in every age of the Christian movement, and so clearly, it is in our day. If we would ward off the present pandemic of mere speculation leading to contrary doctrine and doctrinal revulsion, and if we would discover from Christ’s Word those truths that contribute to the renewing of our minds, then we must understand sound doctrine, and get as much of it as we can into our spiritual systems.

For reflection
1.  Why do you suppose some people today are becoming skeptical of doctrine?

2.  Why is teaching doctrine a matter of stewardship of God’s Word?

3.  How would you describe your own understanding and use of Biblical doctrine? Would you say you are a student of sound doctrine? Or are you a bit put off by it? Explain.

Next steps – Conversation: What is your own response to “doctrine”? What can you do to begin having a richer diet of sound doctrine in your daily spiritual fare?

T. M. Moore

This might be a good time to review our ReVision series on “Winds of Doctrine.” You can download all the studies in that series by clicking here.

All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here. Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (click here).

Thanks for your prayers and support
If you find ReVision helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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