Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Doctrinal confusion

I began my latest book The Healthy Community: Moving Your Church Beyond Tunnel Vision by addressing the problem of doctrinal confusion that exists in so many churches today.  This problem is at the core of most problems in the church.  In an effort to try to appeal to unchurched people many churches and denominations have watered down the gospel message.  Not only is this not biblical, it's unnecessary.  Thom Rainer's research found that 91 percent of formerly unchurched people said that doctrine was one of the important factors that attracted them to the church they eventually joined.  People are seeking answers to the complicated questions and issues facing them, and they are not interested in spending time listening to diluted messages that refuse to speak an authoritative word to those questions and issues.

Of course, if those proclaiming those messages have a low view of Scripture then we should not be surprised if they can't offer anything more than what a person can get from any television talk show.  Many years ago I read statistics that showed the percentage of ministers who denied the basic doctrines of the Christian faith.  The numbers of such ministers were shockingly high.  If such a low view of the Scriptures was being proclaimed from the pulpit then we should not expect those listening to such messages week after week would have a very high view of Scripture either.

Ed Stetzer and Elmer Towns wrote, "Take away the authority of the Bible, or the essential content of the Bible, and you no longer have Christianity."  Many in our postmodern world will find their words offensive, but they are absolutely correct.  I actually began this book by asserting that the most important decision any individual or church can make is what it believes about the Bible.  If the Bible is not the authoritative Word of God then we have no basis to believe anything it says.  That is why the enemy has attacked the Bible so hard since it was given to us.  If he can discredit the Scriptures then he can more easily cast doubt in people's minds as to the identity of Jesus Christ, the way of salvation, and the morals and ethics by which we should live our lives.  Without an authoritative Bible then everyone's beliefs are equal and everyone is free to choose the values by which they will live, and no one can say they are wrong.

The church and its leaders must address the doctrinal confusion that exists today and begin to speak with a clear voice.  We will not find the answers we need from Washington, from the media, from the statehouses, or even from religion.  The answers we need to resolve mankind's greatest problems and needs will be found in the Scriptures and through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  The churches that will proclaim that message will thrive while those that continue to deny the Scriptures and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ will eventually shrivel up and die.

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