Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What is "Sound Doctrine?"

I’ve often heard the phrase “sound doctrine” used in church. Typically, “sound” means the opposite of “false.” So it amounts to the age-old right/wrong, true/false dichotomy. Of course, in this context “sound doctrine” equals accepted conservative beliefs on any issue. If you don’t agree, then your beliefs are unsound, wrong, and false. Along with the “law of silence,” this fallacious way of thinking needs to be debunked.

The phrase “sound doctrine” certainly is scriptural, but what does it mean? It is used, most notably, in 2nd Timothy and Titus. “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). The word “sound” comes from the Greek word we usually translate as “hygiene” or “health.” It is a medical term. So sound teaching/doctrine is healthy doctrine. What is the opposite of healthy? Unhealthy! Not false or wrong. The “unsound” doctrine being promoted on Crete was very conservative (Gentiles had to follow the Jewish law), but profoundly unhealthy for the body of believers. Paul’s view was liberal/progressive, but it was healthy or “sound.”

In the modern church, a lot of doctrine is unhealthy. Ultra conservative views about worship, music, marriage and divorce, woman’s role, leadership qualifications, etc. are radically sectarian, divisive, hurtful, and unhealthy for the body. This comes back to the questioned I’ve raised before: Does religion make people better or worse? If a belief or doctrine causes you to act less rational and less kind, then that belief is unhealthy. This is so ironic because some of the most unsound (unhealthy) doctrine I’ve ever come across thrives in church environments where they are constantly defending their “soundness."


Bill Jordan said...

Unfortunately, most of us are so poorly educated that we don't know the difference in the words doctrine, teaching, tradition, law and command. They seem to all run together in our weak little minds.

We've let those words all run together in our heads and what we've been left with is a generation that thinks something taught with the best of intentions is our doctrine. And since we've let all of those word run together, those teachings have become tradition, then law, then command.

The thing that's left behind in all of that weak logic is that the teaching came from a man, not God. From men, not Jesus. From people with personal agendas, not the Apostles.

But there is danger in spending too much time trying to reverse the course of where we often find ourselves when we discover that we've jumbled all of these words up in our minds. The best course is to just go back to God's words, Christ words, and the teachings of the Apostles. When we do that it all boils down to loving God, loving each other and taking care of those who don't have that love in their lives.

If you ask me, that's pretty "sound doctrine" and we need to get ourselves focused, or refocused, on just taking care of a world that's desperate for that love and a God that is so hungry for our love.

Arlene Kasselman said...

Charles, I am in class this weekend with Cory and he said you had a good post up. I will read it in a fe, but right now I just wanted to say enjoy the rugby on Saturday if you get to watch.

Yes, I am a fellow South AFrican!

Charles North said...

Hi Arlene. I'm glad Cory put you onto my blog. Isn't he a great guy? Everyone always asks me, "Do you know Arlene?" I've heard your name so many times! I will probably watch the rugby with my brother - we have SA rugby jerseys that we usually wear. Geniet die res van jou klas!

Ryan said...

Arlene, I am the brother mentioned in the previous comment. I find it appropriate that the English supporters sing a hymn at the games. Even more appropriate that it is a funeral hymn. Boks win by at least 20.
The great news is that New Zealand will be watching the final from their couches on their little island. I am so thankful that we have been spared that insufferable haka.

poliverfb said...

Sound = Healthy

Right and there is certainly nothing more healthy than the doctrine of Christ, which doctrine the apostles continued in after his Resurrection. So what did he teach? The fundamentals are as follows:

1 Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and thy neighbor as thy self. The first command upon which all others hand. This involves your response to God in every aspect of your life, and your response to man in how you treat them.

2 A faith that Jesus was God manifest in flesh, and that belief in him would give you eternal life an the power to become sons of God. Jesus said except you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have on live in you John 6:53.

3 A belief in the Resurrection of the dead and that he will return one day and catch away a waiting bride.

4 A belief that Jesus sent the comforter and that he would endue the church with power to perform signs and miracles to be witnesses of him in the earth.

5 A belief that salvation is designed for the whole man spirit, soul, and body. The Spirit of man is cleansed of sin, the mind is made new, and the body is divinely healed.

1 John 1:7, Romans 12:1-2, Isaiah 53:51

6 A belief in eternal judgment, and the final punishment of the ungodly.

Revelation 21:8

7 A belief that those who have been redeemed will forever be with the Lord.

Revelation 21:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:17

This all sounds pretty healthy to me!!!!