Christianity loves “doctrine,” and doctrinal debates are extremely common. On both sides, the primary weapon used both to wound and defend is something both revere and value – the Bible! While establishing correct beliefs is ok and often helpful, the way this is often gone about is hurtful and discredits the reality of the gospel to unbelievers. Many times, both sides of a doctrinal debate are arguing dogmatically from a position of incomplete understanding. Therefore, there are legitimate criticisms from both sides against the other, and BOTH leave wounded and confused. May God use that woundedness and confusion to get people off the path of carnal “doctrine” and onto the path of the spirit.
I realized long ago that many who saw things differently than I did were just as, if not more, genuine and devoted to scripture and truth, as well as able to use scripture to fight for their position. Who was to say I was correct? For many, when their long-held beliefs or denominational positions are threatened, in their heart and mind they quickly refer back to the kindness or devotion of those who believe like they do, especially a pastor or leader who they learned from. Please understand, being kind and friendly, being self-sacrificing, genuine or zealous in your beliefs has NOTHING to do with truth. Good, genuine people can be found who believe all kinds of things. We must let go, forever, the idea that good personal qualities are an indication of a follower of truth. Looking to ANY man to gain or reinforce truth is a recipe for disaster.
Despite these things, which should be obvious, the endless doctrinal debates rage on perpetually. I believe the primary reason for this is that there is little spiritual vision, truth and light among those who claim to follow Christ. The church has become blind due to self-focus, self-preservation, apathy, false doctrine, traditions of men, and the primary culprit, pride. When spiritual vision is lost, all that is left is law and doctrine. Losing one’s familiar laws, rules, or established “doctrines” is scary, because then you feel lost and become dependent on something you can’t control or grasp. Familiarity breeds comfort, but I’m telling you, yes you the reader, God doesn’t want and isn’t glorified by a “comfortable” church who is essentially on standby until He returns, He doesn’t want those who “hold the fort,” He wants “pioneers,” those who will follow His spirit every day, finding new territory, reliant on Him and “putting no confidence in the flesh.” A wise man (Dan Gochnour of Scent of Water ministries in Pennsylvania, highly recommended) said that religion is based on what God said, while Truth is what God is saying, right now.
To know what God is saying requires spiritual discernment, which I believe is sorely lacking. The spirit, distinct from the soul, is the part awakened when one comes to Christ. It’s the part that connects with God. It’s the part of us beneath feelings and the human mind. It’s the part God deals with, and desires to come to be our life-source. It’s the life of Christ within us. If, like most of Christianity, you like things established and “cut-and-dried,” please reconsider. I’m not saying throw the Bible out, I’m saying the Bible has wrongly been elevated above the spirit. The Bible’s teachings are often misunderstood, often mistranslated, and many are ignored. The Bible points to the Spirit of God as the only reliable teacher and the only one qualified to lead men into Truth.
Jesus described the pride of Christianity in Revelation 3:17: “…you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing…” Revelation is a spiritual book. This isn’t describing a materially wealthy, outwardly arrogant people, it’s describing those who feel they have accumulated spiritual riches and therefore think they are “in need of nothing.” They have lost their desperation, their every-moment dependence on God for spiritual truth, for God’s presence. Jesus said they are ignorant of their real condition: “…you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…” Again, these people aren’t outwardly naked, or blind, or whatever, this is the condition of their spiritual man. And they don’t know it. Much, if not most of Christianity today is this way, though they deny it, because as Jesus said, they “don’t know” their miserable spiritual condition. In my next blog, I plan to write more on the cure for this, which Jesus prescribes (hint: look up the Greek meaning of the word “salve” which Jesus says to put on one’s eyes to cure this blindness). It has more to do with spiritual discernment.
I believe when Jesus said a follower of his must forsake “all his own possessions,” the primary meaning of this was their own understandings and doctrines, not their cars and clothes and homes. I believe laying these down and allowing oneself to only be taught by the spirit will please God much more than any religious work you could do.
1 John 2:27: As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing (spirit) teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.
1 Corinthians 2: 9…all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11…the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God…”
John 16: 12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; -The Spirit, Jesus said, was going to guide us into all truth, things his followers then were not prepared to handle. New, present truth. Amen.