While “doctrine” is a dirty word in some circles, there are times when I wonder if it’s become a bit of a cliché in some of ours. Many of us in the “new Calvinist/YRR/whatever-you-want-to-call-this” movement love to talk about the importance of sound doctrine and why it matters. We have systematic theologies and commentaries, apologetics books and cultural critiques. But sometimes we forget to talk about what doctrine does in the life of the church, practically.
In Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God, Bobby Jamieson doesn’t give us another book on why doctrine is important. Instead, he reminds us how orthodoxy leads to a healthy church—one committed to the fulfilling of the Great Commission in the spirit of the great commandments.
Sound doctrine: for life in—and the life of—the church
Jamieson, assistant editor of 9Marks and managing editor of the 9Marks Journal, hooked me the moment I read his definition of sound doctrine: “Sound doctrine is a summary of the Bible’s teaching that is both faithful to the Bible and useful for life” (17).
How many other clear and helpful definitions of sound doctrine have you encountered—definitions that balance knowledge and practice? We understand the first easily enough, but when we neglect the second we tend to get into trouble. Application testifies to how firmly we actually hold to our beliefs, confirming the genuineness of our convictions or betraying the hypocrisy of our hearts. For example, what effect does how we treat one another have on the outside world? Does it attract or repel? Do people look at our congregations and really see a group of believers committed to one another? We’ve all heard stories of ugly church splits, divisiveness, pride, and cliquishness that leave people saying, “If that’s what a church is, I’m out.”
This is what sound doctrine lived out protects us from. It brings about greater unity when handled humbly. It increases our awe of the Lord and grows us in personal and corporate holiness. It drives our witness before the watching world and increases our love for one another. [Read more...]