Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Does the Bible Teach "Doctrine"?

Does the Bible Teach “Doctrine”?

Recently I came across a website criticizing Kenneth Copeland Ministries as dishonest, lacking Christian character, and misusing donated funds. Unfortunately, the person criticizing Copeland was essentially calling the kettle black. Why? For starters, the only objection this person had was that Copeland lacked Christian “character”. But is that the only problem with Copeland? For many Pentecostals and Charismatics the word “doctrine” is anathema because they view “doctrine” as something that divides Christians unnecessarily. But is that actually the case and if so is this a good thing? Let's examine this issue closer.

First of all, is it true that the Bible is not concerned about doctrine as is often assumed by Pentecostals and Charismatics? What does the Bible have to say about “doctrine”? If we do a search of the English Standard Version with just about any Bible software or Bible website we get the following results:

Job 11:4; Romans 16:17; Ephesians 4:14; 1 Timothy 1:3,10; 1 Timothy 4:6; 1 Timothy 6:3; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1,10; Hebrews 6:1-2

I got those search results by doing a word search for “doctrine.” I am often accused of being too “educated” by Pentecostals and Charismatics. But as anyone can see it does not take a seminary degree to look up terms with a Bible concordance or computer search. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance is a good resource for this if one is accustomed to using the King James Version of the Bible.

Exactly what is “doctrine” anyway? The New Testament was originally written in the common Greek trade language of the first century, also called Koine Greek. The word used in the Greek New Testament for “doctrine” in the above verses is “didache” (pronounced did-ahk-ay). The Greek word is διδαχή. (Hebrews 6:2, “instruction”). If we consult any Greek lexicon (or dictionary) we can get information about the term didache like where it occurs in the Bible, what it means in different contexts within the Greek New Testament. Essentially, context is how the word is used in a particular verse of the Bible within that paragraph and passage (pericope).

Many resources are available online. For example, we can use the King James Version to find every occurrence of the word “doctrine” in the KJV and then find the Strong's number for that English word. We then look up the number in the Greek dictionary in the back of the hard copy of the concordance or we can use the online version at most Bible websites, including Bible Gateway. Here are the appropriate links where I have done the work for you: KJV Search Results for “doctrine” at Bible Gateway. Also, we can search Strong's Exhaustive Concordance Online in either the King James Version or the New American Standard Bible. Simply enter the word “doctrine” in the search window and hit “enter”. When the results come up just click on the verse reference and then check the “Strong's numbers” box at the top. When the reference is displayed we will see the key words displayed in blue. Just click on the blue highlighted word “doctrine” and we will then be given the definition of the Greek or Hebrew term for that verse in the lexicon at the back of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. We can also use this for the NASB. In the first reference we are given the reference for Deuteronomy 32:2 and the word “leqach” is in Hebrew because the Old Testament is written in Hebrew. We can also see a word count of how many times that word occurs in the Old Testament and the appropriate verse references. The Greek definition is given for the reference in Matthew 7:28 KJV.

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: (Matthew 7:28 KJV)

If we click on the blue highlighted word after clicking on the reference for Matthew 7:28 the results for the Greek word “didache” come up. We can click on the “interlinear” box to see a comparison between the KJV and the NIV as well. Noting the definition of the Greek word “didache” we can see that it is almost synonymous with “teaching” or “instruction”.

So do Pentecostals “teach” or “instruct” people? Yes! We can therefore conclude that Pentecostals and Charismatics do in fact teach “doctrine”. It is a bit hypocritical for Pentecostals and Charismatics to criticize other denominations for emphasizing doctrine when they are teaching their own distinctive doctrines like the “baptism with the Holy Spirit as evidenced by the initial physical sign of speaking in tongues.”

The real issue here is not whether or not we should teach and preach “doctrine” but what our doctrine should be. How we interpret and understand the Bible as a harmonious whole and how we interpret the particulars of a given verse or passage in its own particular context and in the context of the Bible as a whole is important. In fact, doctrine is so important that it could determine whether a person spends eternity in heaven or in hell. Some doctrines are non-negotiable. Several of these non-negotiable doctrines are: The trinity, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, the substitutionary atonement, the virgin conception of Jesus Christ, justification by faith alone, Scripture alone is the final authority, and other doctrines not listed here. The reason Pentecostals and Charismatics wish to vilify other denominations is their triumphalistic emphasis on ecstatic experience above any emphasis on “doctrine”. In this way they can short circuit any intellectual analysis of their own position while at the same time denouncing the doctrines of other denominations. In short, this is highly hypocritical and even an outright deception since they themselves teach “doctrine”. The question is whose doctrine is most biblical?

The Bible itself says that Jesus came teaching and preaching and that He contradicted the “traditions of men” (Mark 7:7). (Also see Matthew 4:23; 7:28-29; 9:35; 13:54; 21:23; 26:55; 28:20; Mark 1:21; 1:39; 11:17-18; Luke 4:15; 23:5; John 18:19-20) So anyone who adds to God's Word is teaching something that has not been divinely revealed as God's very words (2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Isaiah 8:20; Revelation 22:18). If we are not preaching the Bible then we are essentially preaching the “traditions of men”. On this point I would place Pentecostals and Charismatics on the same playing field as Roman Catholics since both want to add new revelations and traditions and ecstatic experiences to God's revealed Word, the Holy Scriptures. All we need to know to be saved is recorded in Holy Scripture and the Scriptures are sufficient to lead anyone to saving faith in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:15; 2:15; Romans 9:33; 10:5-11).

We do not need a pope or an infallible church to tell us what the Bible says. Anyone who can read can know the Bible for themselves. (John 5:38-39; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:15; Luke 24:27). In fact, we do not need a super-spiritual Pentecostal or Charismatic preacher to tell us what the Bible says either:

And this is the promise that he made to us--eternal life. 26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie--just as it has taught you, abide in him. (1 John 2:25-27 ESV)

The idea that the preacher or teacher has some inside “revelation knowledge” from God is to add to God's inspired Word and to introduce a form of modern day gnosticism. Any plow boy with a Bible can know everything necessary to salvation. There is no need for “secret” interpretations to be revealed from some preacher or teacher who has a direct phone line to God which we allegedly do not have. Another warning sign of a false preacher or teacher is when there is no doctrinal statement posted online. This is a red flag right away since it means the teacher has something to hide and wants us to blindly follow their teachings or doctrines without questioning the authority from which they are drawn. Any minister who discourages someone from reading and studying the Bible for themselves is probably a false teacher or a false prophet.

May the peace of God be with you! (Romans 15:33).


[See also: Confessions of Faith].

Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer


Julie said...

Well done brother.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thank-you, Miss Julie. Looks like you have a blog as well. I like what you had to say about reprobation. God is in control of both preterition and condemnation.


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