on doctrine and being right

When the whole deal broke out that John Piper was inviting Rick Warren to speak at his Desiring God National Conference – I somehow got caught up in a conversation with some folks about the whole thing over on Facebook – whew!  One lesson I learned, you can’t always “reason” with neo-calvinists – I mean they were throwing John Piper under the bus – they were insisting Warren is a heretic, false teacher, emeny of the church?  WOW.  

Well, on the issue of doctrine and being right one fellow made the following comment to me

Brian, doctrine is most important, men have died for doctrine.  What you believe affects the way you live.  Jesus taught doctrine, the bible is full of doctrine.  That is loving one another when you teach the right doctrine.  The Scriptures say that God is love, so who better to define love than He.  If you do not have the right doctrine how can you say …  See More you love God.  Many on the day of judgement will stand before God thinking they know Him (which is right doctrine) and be sadly mistaken.  Men’s definition of love and God’s are way diffrent.  Search the Scriptures for in them you THINK you have eternal life. 

Oh Man, where to begin?  So many questions about this comment that I have.

First thing I guess I noticed, was that nobody died for Jesus!  Lol!  They died for a system of belief.  If so, that’s a real shame, you know? 

So knowing “right doctrine” can be equated with “knowing God”?  Wait a minuite, I thought God was a being, a person, not a system of belief?  God is someone to be related to not necessarily systematized. 

Search the Scriptures for in them you THINK you have eternal life.”   Huh?  I thought that was what Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders for in John 5:39?

(39) “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you posess eternal life.  These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, (40) yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” 

This man was obviously committed to the calvinist way of understanding God and the Bible but has inisted that he would not want to be part of something that wasn’t right – by implication that calvinism is the most right way of thinking about and knowing/relating to God, to the exclusion of other ways, which was over-interpreted to mean any way is fine and good, which was sort of missing the point. 

Here is my main question: Are we so concerned about getting it right that we have missed the ONE who is the light and the life of all people, the ONE who alone is able to give us eternal life

I guess I am glad there isn’t going to be a systematic theology test when I get to heaven!  lol! 



8 responses to “on doctrine and being right

  1. I look at it like this: If we truly know God then that should be shown through right belief (orthodoxy) and right practice (orthopraxy). The way we talk about God and live for God is important, so important that you can’t choose one over the other, it has to be both. I cringe when I hear about how unimportant doctrine is and how important living for God is (and I hear it more often than I’d like to). They go hand in hand so why separate them?

    And God is a being, three persons… 😉

  2. I understand Nick. I do. My concern is when those of calvninstic doctrine insist that their way is right and all others are misguided or flat wrong – when the emphasis on doctrine is no less in Arminian or other circles. Does that make sense?

  3. We definitely believe we must have strong doctrine, or else we wouldn’t have gone through seminary & become pastors. Just elevating doctrine over relationship or even equating doctrine with relationship makes me cringe.

    We aren’t arguing over orthodoxy, that is a given – without understanding those truths or embracing them, well, we can’t have true meaningful relationship with Christ. It just seems scary to me when people start saying, “I’d die for doctrine” in the context of Calvinism, Arminianism or any other orthodox Christianity.

    When it all comes down to it, I don’t know that I’d die for my A/G doctrines among other orthodox doctrines. I would die for Christ and for my family, and even for the church that we pastor. I’d definitely go to bat for my Arminian, Pentecostal and A/G beliefs. Yet I don’t feel that within the context of orthodoxy that we should be dying for our denominations…or be so vehemently opposed to fellowship because they don’t have the same doctrines as us.

  4. As a Calvinist I would like to just point out that Arminians are just as guilty, Brian 🙂 Trust me, when I was an Arminian I did the same thing and I have a lot of friends and family who still are and still do 😉

    But, that’s not the subject at hand, so forgive me 🙂 Just remember that some of us Calvinists are Continuationists and not always mean 😉

    I will simply say that I’m with you regarding Piper and Warren. I love Piper. I’m not a huge fan of Warren. But I’m looking forward to going to this conference and to learning and experiencing deep fellowship and even to hearing Warren speak.

    I think Warren gets subjected to a lot of silly nonsense. I have issues with some of his pragmatics, but I can’t say that the man is an outright heretic or demon, as some have suggested!

    Interestingly, I had the same exact experience on facebook, though I’m not sure the people were Reformed who were flaming me. They seemed to be more like Fundamentalists 😉

    • Luke, yeah I realize the problem of fundamentalism, is not limited to one particular persuation or another. There are C & A fundies. Just seems like the C fundies are getting most of the publicity at the moment.

  5. I think only a few doctrines are probably important and most of the time we’re trying to connect our pet doctrines to those important ones to elevate their importance. I don’t think God cares all that much. I don’t even think we need some correct orthodoxy to get correct orthopraxy. I just think we need a changed heart.

  6. Doctrine is fundamentally important…to grow into. We are justified by faith and initiated by baptism, not by the theoretical constructs we assent consciously to no matter how authoritative. I say this as one hoping to be a catechesis teacher!

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