Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Truth Are YOU Willing to Die For?

Why are we so willing to die for doctrine that somebody taught us? Doctrine that we had no hand in formulating. Doctrine that is really someone ELSE’S interpretation of Scripture.

We join a church (non-denom or mainline) and then we start being taught– we are taught through preaching (which, by the way, is just ONE man – the SAME man – week after week), through Sunday school (again, ONE person), or any other teaching ministry. After a while, these doctrines get ingrained so much, we can’t even tell you how we got where we are. We don’t question – we just accept. And THEN, if someone postulates ANOTHER possibility, or suggests that YOUR doctrine MAY not be a correct interpretation of Scripture (some of which I call the Extrapolation of Scripture), well, THEN we get upset. "Don't overturn MY applecart!"

Suggest to a Baptist that we may not be “saved to serve”, and you get hostility.

Suggest to a Pentecostal that ALL people may not get the gift of tongues, and you get aggression.

Suggest to a Lutheran that Luther might be wrong about some things, and you get anger.

Again, besides preaching Christ crucified, why do we get so hung up on denominational distinctives?

If we would just take a moment to think about something, then MAYBE we could get some better perspective and actually have a RELATIONSHIP with the One who sent His Son for that reason and none other.


Anonymous said...

I think sometimes people get a wrong impression of what a doctrine is. Though some may consider "saved to serve", "tongues", and the infalibility of Luther to be doctrine, I don't see how anyone could think that.
True doctrine is confined to about eight or nine consistent teachings throughout the Bible. Man's sin, redeemption, angels, scripture, God, and a few others. Anyone reading the Bible for themself would see these themes.
I agree that most people react defensivly when their beliefs are challenged. This is not reserved for people in organized groups. We all hold on a little too tight on what we think is right.
Would someone who believes in the exchanged life or "grace living" react with anger if they were told it was an incomplete view of true Christianity?
Just some thoughts.

Aida said...

Great thoughts, John. I suppose we all have our own personal beliefs about many things that are really very unclear in the Bible or not in the Bible at all. I think that's okay until they become engraved in stone and not subject to change.

God has changed my personal beliefs about so many things that now there are very few things that I'm willing to hold onto. In my opinion, most of what we believe is not really anything that we know for sure. We accept it because someone told us it's true instead of knowing it because God has personally revealed it to us.

John Fincher said...

Dear PTB,

Perhaps I should have been clearer - instead of using the word "doctrine", I should have said any formal teaching.

My only point was about being defensive about teaching that we really haven't looked at ourselves, but that which has been spoon fed to us without (as Aida put so well) an actual revelation by God.

And I can't speak for everyone else here, but I don't think I would react with anger if someone disagreed with me about what I've come to believe - we're all in different places in our journey. I DO get angry with people, however, who hold others in purposeful bondage for their the own benefit.

Anonymous said...


I could not agree with you more! It is dangerous, foolish, and irresponsible to accept any teaching at the word of another. Many teach out of ignorance, others out of misplaced obligation, and others because they are numb from years of futile effort. The most dangerous is the one who teaches a lie when they know the truth.
The sovereign God of all creation has not only made me His child, He has given me express instructions to spend my life getting to know Him for myself. I can't blame the false teachers if I choose not to follow the "INclosed instructions".
I have been told that my way of writing comes across as anger. NOTHING could be more untrue.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his FRIEND.

...and Enide said...

PTB, how do you determine who teaches the truth? Why do we listen to Paul and Peter? What about early church fathers, like Augustine? They surely offer valuable insight about the nature of God and the Christian life. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I don't understand where to draw the line.


Anonymous said...


...and Enide,
Good question. The answer for me is I start and end with the Bible. I believe the words are not from Paul or Peter but from the Holy Spirit. It is this same Spirit that dwells within me.


Aida said...

Enide, you've asked a really good question and I hope you don't mind if I share my thoughts too.

When I want to determine truth, I look to what is already in my recreated heart. I ask myself, "Does this resonate with what's in my heart?" and if it does, I accept it. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and he has taken up residence in our hearts to teach and to guide us so I'm learning to look inward to Him for wisdom and direction.

Joel B. said...


Great points here. I admit to being on both sides of the equation here, sometimes simultaneously. :) That is, talking with others about not being so rigid with their beliefs while at the same time being rigid with mine!

But as I've shaken off a lot of this in my own life, I've seen more clearly what seems to go on a lot in the church. We get taught something consistently and we believe it even if it's not true. I remember a certain person who had been set free by God's grace who said he was going on a steady diet of only ___ _____ (a certain pentecostal grace teacher). I thought, NOOO!!!! Don't hang all your beliefs on the teachings of one man.

I've since seen the fruit of what this steady diet has done in the life of this man. Because of certain teachings that he's listened to, he now feels as if he is inadequate because certain signs and manifestations aren't seen in his life. (The preacher preaches along the lines of your "pentecostal" suggestion above). Rather than looking to the scripture and/or looking to what the Spirit reveals to him personally in his heart, he has let himself become defeated because of the teachings of one man.

This is one reason why I believe that "sermons" were never meant to be a part of the Christian life. At least, not prominently. Teachers are wonderful, yes, but we also need to teach and share with one another. It should never be that one person in a church or group or ministry, etc, plays such a prominent role.

We've had people email us about our Growing in Grace program, saying that all they listen to is us. I "get" where they are coming from, in that they have lived under the yoke and bondage of legalism for so long. Perhaps we're helping them out in their being established in grace and freedom. But I caution them that we don't gots all the goods! We're just sharing what we've come to see and understand, and it can be downright dangerous to put such stock in the teachings of one or two people. (Especially me and Kap!) LOL I've tried to point out on the program from time to time that other people will have opinions that differ from us, and it's absolutely ok to disagree with us.

Anyway, great thoughts here from you and everyone.

Ursula Kuba said...

Hi John,

Actually, I love church. But then I have been in one that does not abuse leadership - after many that do, and trust me, it all came from a place of relationship and teaching and love...and was very freeing. Not positional at all. In fact, there is not a positional bone in the de Gersingny's bodies!

In saying that, I am so with you on this post and it totally resonates with me. In fact, just the last few weeks a friend has been questioning me about the gift of tongues. Does she have to have it. Why? How? Should she be concerned that she doesn't speak in tongues. My answer is, unequivocably, NO! THere is nothing to be concerned about.

As to hanging on one mans preaching..I am with you there!

From Flame to Fire said...

I believe that the truths we believe are completely rooted in our faith, which has always fascinated me. I've grown up in a Christian household and have gone to church my entire life. Therefore, it makes sense that I would place my faith in Christ. I just find it extremely interesting how much our up-bringing and culture affects something so strong and important as our faith. One of my best friends, for instance, was born in Libya to a Muslim family. Though her family is more liberal than most Muslims, her faith in her religion seems just as strong as my faith in Christ. The "truths" we believe, just as you said, become engrained and we refuse to question. It just amazes me how my friend probably believes I am living a lie. Am I more fortunate than her? I think about this a lot.

PTB said...

I love reading thoughtful sincere comments, nomatter where they land. It makes me examine and "think on these things".

P.S. Hope this post works. I am feeling a little inferior.

John Fincher said...


Comment anytime! ;-)


I agree with your "take" on preachers. WHERE in the NT does it have anything like it? I don't see it. I appears to me, whenever they "preached" it was to share the Gospel. I don't see a teaching ministry - BUT, I'm open to correction.


Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

F to F,

I share your thoughts about beliefs and where they come from. I agree that we ALL share sincere faith, depending on our upbringing. To me, the difference between Christianity and any other belief is that Jesus tells us we can have an actual personal relationship with the Creator. To my knowledge, no other religion tries to accomplish this.

Thanks to all!