Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Does Doctrine Matter

So the planets have aligned in a bizarre way and resulted in two freak activities beginning at the same point.
1. We've just started a series on Galatians at church
2. My wife and I (ten years behind the rest of the world) have started watching spooks

These two things beginning at the same point have forced me to again consider the question does doctrine matter? Let me explain.

In Spooks there is a particularly good episode where they are infiltrating an extremist Islamic group who are attempting to train young (15 year old) men to be suicide bombers. Few things have made me more angry than seeing lies being taught, lies being hammered home and resulting in a 15 year old boy throwing his life away in an act of meaningless violence. As you're watching this it's hard to argue that doctrine doesn't matter.

You see the truth you believe matters. If you believe the West is evil and that true spirituality comes through blowing yourself up then you tragically waste your life. This of course is all that doctrine is. Doctrine is simply the truth you believe and the truth you believe definitely matters.

It's easy to think that doctrine doesn't matter. That doctrine is just the dry theory used to divide but actually the truth you live for is hugely important. As you watch the extremists in spooks it would be hard to argue otherwise but perhaps in more normal life it looks a bit harder.

But you see if the truth that you believe is that life is about happiness and that happiness comes from the acquisition of money/stuff then you will live your life according to that code. Now that matters because if that's true then a life lived with that goal is the best chance you've got but if it's not true then a life lived with that goal will ultimately lead to a wasted life.

Whatever you live for whether it's true or not really matters because that ultimately will make the difference between a wasted life and a life lived to the max. This is something Christianity doesn't duck.
So in the Bible we read the statement that if Jesus' life, death and resurrection are not true then we are to be pitied because we are living our life on the basis of a lie.

So we come to Galatians and we see Paul passionate about confronting false teaching. Confronting lies which are being propagated. This can feel dry and aggressive but actually it is just a recognition that what you believe matters. Doctrine matters not because then you can win an argument, not because then you can be sound but because the truth we believe determines the things we pursue.

So the question we're all left with is what is the truth we can build our lives upon?


  1. It seems to me that often when the claim that doctrine doesn't matter is made, it is as a reaction against an experience of "doctrine" being argued strongly by a group who don't practice what they preach. In reality, this just means that they are living by a different doctrine to the one they preach but it makes it seem like doctrine and life are two unconnected things. As you say, they can't be separated.
    Where are you up to with Spooks? Lisa wasn't happy with the end of the first series so we never got any further!

  2. Just half way through season 2. It's quite fun really. Overall I've been pleasantly surprised in a slightly subdued way.