In the new issue of Credo Magazine, “Doctrine Matters,” David Garner has written an articled called, “You Are What You Think: Tearing Down Popular Theological Fallacies.” Rev. Dr. David B. Garner (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is vice president of advancement and associate professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary.

Here is the start of the article:

Every society has a rulebook, but living in one’s birth culture creates a blind embrace of its practices, norms, and expectations. We believe certain things about speech, social cues, and even driving habits with little awareness of what we prize or why we prize it. Behavior witnessed outside the cultural rulebook tilts us off center, leading us to a myriad of responses including inexplicable indignation. Identifying underlying cultural assumptions often requires an international friend or a sociologist to hold up a mirror before our eyes. Even then we may resist its telling reflections.

The theological world is no different. There is much to celebrate in recent studies of ancient languages, Ancient Near East culture, Second Temple Judaism, and biblical theology. Volumes of publication have informed the Church usefully. But for all the good, theology possesses its own contemporary rulebook, which has adopted a number of fallacies. I hold up a mirror here for us to reflect on three of the most common ones. …

And here are the three fallacies Ganer refutes:

Fallacy 1: All theology is tentative      

Fallacy 2: Theological certainty is arrogance

Fallacy 3: Doing is more important than thinking

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Say the word “doctrine” in church and you will get some strange looks. Say it again and you will find yourself sitting all alone. For many Christians today doctrine seems miles removed from real life in the church. Doctrine is for academics that spend their time speculating in their ivory towers. It’s the stuff of the head, but Christians are to be concerned with matters of the heart. Plus, shouldn’t we just stick to reading the Bible anyway?

Perhaps this will come as a surprise to some, but the Bible is doctrine’s number one fan. In fact, for Jesus and the apostles doctrine was everything. It really mattered. Entering the kingdom of God, a proper understanding of the gospel, and a real relationship with the living God all hinge upon one’s doctrinal beliefs concerning the character of God, the heinousness of sin, the divine identity of Christ, and the nature of the cross.

Doctrine is so important to the biblical authors that Paul told Titus to teach only what “accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). And when Paul spelled out the qualifications to become an elder in the church, an ability to teach biblical doctrine was at the top of the list. “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

In this issue of Credo Magazine, several pastors and theologians help us understand just how much doctrine matters for the Christian life and for the church. We will discover that doctrine infiltrates the songs we sing, the sermons we preach, and the way we counsel each other as disciples of Christ. We will learn that nothing could be more critical to a right relationship with God and others than sound doctrine. Whether we realize it or not, doctrine is a way of life. The Christian life depends entirely upon sound doctrine. In short, doctrine matters.

Contributors include Leland Ryken, Scott Sauls, David B. Garner, Jeremy Kimble, Matthew Barrett, Raymond Perron, Fred Zaspe, J. V. Fesko, Brad Bitner, and many others.

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