Many years ago the church I attended got a new pastor. He was young, hip, and had run headlong into the fad of the Toronto Blessing or Laughing Revival. On his first Sunday as pastor, he announced that the church had been too concerned with theology and doctrine. From that point forward, the focus of the church would be on practical living.
Since then, I’ve heard lots of people say, “I don’t need doctrine” and “I don’t care about theology.” There is a mindset that both are cold and old fashioned. Okay, let’s say they are, and Christians need to work more on practical stuff. Here’s the problem: Christianity depends on the identity of Jesus. Christianity is more than a feeling. Without Jesus, Christianity is just … “ity.”
Is Jesus a man upon whom the Christ-spirit rested for three years? a prophet? a lunatic? an historical figure who taught an enlightened way of humanity? or God in human flesh? H-E-L-L-O! Answering this question is called theology.
What was the mission of Jesus? To reveal the god in each of us? To teach us how to love? To show us the way to good deeds? To die for the sins of everyone yet saving only a few? To give His life as a ransom for God’s elect and redeem each one of them? H-E-L-L-O! Your conclusion is called doctrine.
You cannot have practical Christian living without doctrine. You cannot have meaningful relationships around confused amorphous theology. What you believe about spiritual things is doctrine; and the study of the God who ordains that doctrine is called theology. Everyone has both.
Within a few years, my pastor was gone, the congregation dispersed, and the property sold to pay the debts. Without sound doctrine and theology, it was no longer a local church.
Hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict … speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine (Titus 1:9 & 2:1).