“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Friday, December 14, 2007

Doctrine, Doctrine, Where far art thou Doctrine?

So many people have written about this subject that I almost just dropped it. However, I feel inclined to make a comment as I have recently (again) had this subject brought to my attention.

One of the perks/curses of being a pastor is that everyone feels that it is necessary to send me links to other pastors who are doing 'well'. I am unsure of their reasoning; maybe it is because we are a smaller church and they are trying to give me some 'pointers' on church growth, or, quite possibly, they feel led to assist me in 'improving' my pulpit skills.

However, all of the links that I get, inevitably, look like this:

(1.) - The church is has some pithy, hip, name -- i.e. Oxygen, Mountaintop, etc. (Please note that if this is your church name, I actually made these up out of thin air -- I am trying to avoid giving any of these churches free publicity).

(2.) - The pastor has a blog in which he never writes anything of substance about the faith, his posts are usually an endless and narcissistic monologue of subjects, such as: "What I am doing right now", or "Why I think Haagen-Daz Ice Cream is Cool", or "Why I love XXXXX Jeans".

(3.) - EVERY ONE of these hip, cool, relevant guys has the EXACT same wardrobe and haircut -- they are mostly 20-somethings to 40-somethings trying to look like teen-somethings. They all dress in an untucked shirt, jeans/shorts, sandals, and wear glasses that David Crowder inspired. Their hair is cut short and stands on end, in what we used to call 'bed-head' style.

(4.) - Whenever these folks receive criticism that they are, to be kind, light in content, and heavy in relevance (as described by them, of course), they quickly and arrogantly point out that their church has grown from 25 to 1000 in one year. They are under the delusion that simple numerical growth somehow indicates spiritual health.

(5.) - These 'pastors' seem to be either; incredibly ignorant of, or openly disdainful of, any form of doctrinal statement. Funny thing is, their actions are making a doctrinal statement.

(6.) - After watching a number of their sermons, I can honestly say that these people say so little of value that their relevance (which is the Golden Calf whose feet they worship at), has the shelf-life of a bunch of bananas! They are relevant ONLY to people who do not actually want to hear of something that is of timeless relevance. These 'pastors' will be gone like winter wheat when people move to the next fad. (witness the Willow Creek model which is now coming apart).

(7.) - And finally, what do these great thinkers read? Well, almost all of them read each others books and blogs. Also included in their recommended reading list are a number of business, marketing and church strategy books; some even have Harry Potter in their recommended reading -- it should make you feel good, regardless of your opinion of Harry Potter, that your spiritual leader is reading mediocre juvenile fiction for his sustenance! What is almost universally missing is anything of substance, there is a complete dearth of books regarding our faith, no one reading any of the timeless Christian works that have sustained the church over hundreds and even thousands of years.

Let me just say a final thing -- to you who might fit this mold. I don't hate you, nor do I even dislike you. I don't even know you, but I will tell you that those who are called to pastor are called to a much-higher calling than being hip and cool. We are called to be God's spokesmen to the saints -- we are to be proclaiming the Word of God, not our own witty little writings that make us look good, or hip. The 'game' for pastors is not to grow a large church and proclaim numbers. NOTE: I have nothing against a large church, I would like to have a larger church myself one day, however that is not what we are to be consumed with, rather it is the proclamation of the Word of God, and He will bring the growth. At the end of the day, we are under-shepherds to our great Shepherd. He has entrusted us to watch over His flock; those whom He has purchased with His own precious blood -- and you know what...? This requires study and diligence and work. For all of you who say doctrine is not important let me simply remind you:

Romans 16:17, 18 -- I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Ephesians 4:11 - 14 -- And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

1Timothy 6:3 - 5 -- If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

Titus 1:7 - 9 -- For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 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.

Are you, young man, one who lives a life that is godly? Or, do you revel in being a rebel, and a lightning rod for controversy? Do you not understand that your flock watches you, and by acting juvenile and worldly, you are, in fact, creating a church that looks just like you? We are called to be a City on a Hill, NOT just another option on a list of things to do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Ray!!
Can we send this to the ("higher and higher") church in Charlotte?