Time to shift Church Doctrine?
It’s time that we change our ideas around Church Doctrine. Like many distortions we have allowed over time, it has become something God never intended it to be. Does this mean changing our essential beliefs? No, rather we need to update our definition of doctrine. What ought to be exciting and pulsating with life, has become drab and boring. It is time we shift Church Doctrine.
A Painful Experience
Punitive and painful are apt descriptors for my personal experience in the world of Church Dogma. Even the word itself is morbid – doctrine. Rather than stimulating us to intrigue, it conjures nightmares of laborious nights, where required reading became the bane of Christian education. Avoiding the dry particulars we know to be Christian Doctrine has become a default. However, learning doctrine is apparently what is required if you’re going to be a Christian. Yet the truth is that it’s not!
Doctrine only became what it is now by virtue of the wrong people getting a hold of it. The doctrine of Jesus ought to evoke excitement and a sense of adventure. So here is my question: When the Bible talks about the ‘Doctrine of the Apostles’, is it referring to the same thing we think of now? Is Systematic Theology really the way converts were indoctrinated in the 1st Century? If not what was its original form?
What was the Holy Spirit’s original intent for ‘doctrine’? Consider the early life of the Church as expressed in this verse.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
Is the current academic approach to theology really the core of the Apostles Teaching? I think not! I envision a far more compelling version. The first generation was aflame with passion, not just because of the fresh wave of the Holy Spirit, but because they were born into a tantalizing buffet full of kingdom truths. That is, at least, what it was meant to be before tedious minds gained the present academic monopoly, effectively turning a dynamic array of culinary flavours into the theological equivalent of melba toast (unless of course you like melba toast).
So let’s start by renaming doctrine, and for the sake of clarity, talk instead about Kingdom Truths or Realities. These are the ways of God’s, how His world operates now and then, both in heaven or on earth. The Apostles opened the minds and hearts of those first converts to a dramatic world of possibilities rooted in the display of the person of God. A world defined by His personality and nature.
Like the laws of physics, ‘Kingdom Realities’ are about the way God functions; how He disseminates His transforming power. It is all rooted in His essential nature; the core of His being. It answers key practical questions about the Kingdom of God. For example, on what basis does He release His power? When, where, how does the Kingdom of God really work?
Rather than mundane lists of attributes, we are talking about a living, colourful Person, whose nature is a wonder to behold. This is the heart of true doctrine. When the early church continued in the ‘apostles doctrine’ (Acts 2:42) they were being inducted into a kaleidoscope of living truth and not the legal language of a corporate contract. No… the Apostles Doctrine was the life giving manifestation of God and His effect on the world.
The Apostle’s teaching opened us to the great expanse of possibilities in God. Like discovering gravity or the exciting potential of heat and energy, it should awaken potential instead of inducing slumber. It is not dry fact but living insight into how God’s world works. So I invite you to pray with me for a full restoration of the Apostles Teaching that we might see a generation captivated by the majesty of God.