Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Getting Back To The Doctrine.

Collin Hansen writes at Christianity Today that "We are all Theologians" and examines the need for teaching doctrine to evangelical youths. Here's a clip from the article:

It might appear, then, that doctrine has no pull in this age that shuns indoctrination. Indeed, Smith and Snell find that young adults hold their religious beliefs in abstract, "mentally checked off and filed away." Doctrine does not determine their lives. Religion is about being good and living a good life, not believing the right things. But this approach draws a false dichotomy between belief and behavior. In fact, the idea that religion boils down to good works is itself doctrinal, if erroneous from an orthodox Christian perspective. It makes a doctrinal distinction by privileging Jesus' ethical teachings over his work on the Cross and in the Resurrection. It rejects Jesus' interpretation of his sacrifice as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Young adults who buy into this view follow a well-worn path trod by liberal theologians in the last two centuries.

"The likes of Adolf von Harnack, Albrect Ritschl, Wilhelm Hermann, and Harry Emerson Fosdick would be proud," Smith and Snell write. "People, it is clear, need not study liberal Protestant theology to be well inducted into its worldview, since it has simply become part of the cultural air that many Americans now breathe."

No matter how hard we may try, no one can avoid doctrine. So no matter how bad its reputation, doctrine is a necessary component of Christian discipleship. The March Christianity Today cover story by Darren Meeks notes that Christians today prefer spiritual disciplines and works of mercy to discussing doctrine. Yet however valuable those acts may be, they cannot replace doctrine for spiritual formation.

Publishers have planned to release several resources that call Christians back to their doctrinal foundations. Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears wrote Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, scheduled for an April release. J. I. Packer, a self-described catechist, has teamed with Gary Parrett to write Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way. Christians who ignore catechesis, or religious instruction, simply cede the task to teachers, professors, peers, and media. Kevin DeYoung tries to rehabilitate the Heidelberg Catechism as a teaching tool inThe Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism.

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