Monday, 13 April 2009

Doctrine is practical

http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/pulpit/posts.aspx?ID=4165
by John MacArthur (Shepherds Fellowship, 13 Apr 2009)

I have in my library a book by the spiritual father of a quasi-Christian cult. It argues that structured doctrine and systematized theology are contrary to the spirit of Jesus’ ministry.

The idea that Christ is anti-doctrine is a foundational belief of that cult. But no idea is further from the truth. The word doctrine simply means “teaching.” And it’s ludicrous to say that Christ is anti-teaching. The central imperative of His Great Commission is the command to teach (Matthew 28:18-20).

Unfortunately, cultists aren’t alone in their bias against doctrine. Some evangelicals have almost the same perspective. Because they view doctrine as heady and theoretical, they dismiss it as unimportant, divisive, threatening, or simply impractical.

People often ask why I emphasize doctrine so much. Now and then someone tells me frankly that my preaching needs to be less doctrinal and more practical.

Of course, practical application is vital. I don’t want to minimize its importance. But if there is a deficiency in preaching today, it is that there’s too much relational, pseudopsychological, and thinly life-related content, and not enough emphasis on sound doctrine.

The distinction between doctrinal and practical truth is artificial; doctrine is practical! In fact, nothing is more practical than sound doctrine.

The pastor who turns away from preaching sound doctrine abdicates the primary responsibility of an elder: “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). We teach truth, we teach error, or we teach nothing at all.

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