It would be so great if we could go to a church and hear God’s instruction and be loving Christians without any doubt that what is taught there is God’s absolute truth. But what we hear on many issues depends on the church we enter. In today’s Christianity churches are all over the board on many issues. While God speaks on abortion, baptism, eternal security, gambling, giving, holiness, the holy spirit, leadership, salvation, scripture, sexuality (including homosexuality), the role of women in ministry, worship, and many other topics, from church to church you will hear different reports on what he commands and instructs in these and other areas.
There are several problems that this dichotomy causes:
- The incredible amount of variations possible makes it overwhelming for many Christians to try to resolve, so they don’t try.
a. A lot of churches don’t encourage or even tolerate real investigation into these matters.
b. Most churches have a policy where doctrine is purely decided by the denomination or the pastor so there is no questioning.
- This gives fuel to Christian detractors who point to how Christians can’t agree on what is true.
- People forsake trying to resolve these issues.
- The doubt caused by doctrinal confusion weakens faith
I can’t tell you how many people I have heard say that doctrine isn’t important. They don’t try to learn all the subtleties of the bible because it is too confusing and becomes a pointless exercise for them.
The truth is that the bible is not always clear. According to Rick Warren, the great evangelist Billy Graham struggled with the accuracy and integrity of the Bible. In the early years of his Ministry, Billy Graham went through a time when he struggled with doubts about the accuracy and authority of the Bible. One moonlit night he dropped to his knees in tears and told God that, in spite of confusing passages he didn’t understand, from that point on he would completely trust the Bible as the sole authority for his life and ministry. From that day forward, Billy’s life was blessed with unusual power and effectiveness.i
This is certainly a heartwarming story. If even one as great among us as Billy Graham struggled with confusing passages where does that leave the rest of us? I agree that at some point we need to trust, but that doesn’t diminish the need to eliminate at least some of the confusion over all the many doctrinal disputes. Yes, we stand on our faith despite the confusion, but we still need to work to eliminate it.
i THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE, Rick Warren, 2002, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, p. 187
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