I have seen over the past few years some people say that doctrine is not important.
They say what is important is love for others and respect for the doctrines of others.
So the question is…
Does doctrine matter?
Let’s define the term doctrine.
Doctrine is a set of truths people learn, are taught, and believe which influences how they view God, how they treat others, how they live, choices they make, etc…
Even though some may say that doctrine is not important, is that what the Bible says?
Does the Bible say that doctrine is unimportant...that doctrine doesn’t matter and that loving and respecting others is all that matters?
Let’s take a look inside the Bible to answer this question.
Jesus was very concerned about doctrine.
Jesus himself opposed the doctrines taught by the Pharisees and teachers of the law (Mark 7:1-5).
According to Jesus, the doctrines they taught where traditional beliefs created by man and embraced as truth.
If doctrine wasn't important, Jesus would not have confronted the Pharisees and teachers of the law about their
false doctrine, rather he would have only loved them and respected their teachings.
Jesus himself was a teacher of doctrine.
Jesus, in John 14:6, taught doctrine when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”
Jesus’ teachings were doctrinal (a set of truths).
Jesus, after his ascension, revealed to Paul the doctrines of grace...the truths about all God did for us through his death, burial, and resurrection (Ephesians 3:1-2).
A small summary of these truths is:
By grace through faith in Jesus we are righteous, justified, at peace with God, not under law but under grace, under no condemnation, now Christ lives in us through his Spirit, enabling us to call God Abba Father where we do not live in fear as God’s children and where we put on the new self in our behavior.
Paul stated that anyone who teaches anything other than the gospel of grace which Jesus revealed to him was to be accursed (Galatians 1:6-12).
Obviously, doctrine was important to Paul.
Paul’s letters (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Galatians , Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and the rest of his letters) are full of doctrine...what to believe and how to live.
Paul desired for the church in Ephesus to be grounded in truth so they would not be “blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).
If doctrine did not matter, then Paul would not care if people were “blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine.”
If doctrine did not matter, Paul would not have wasted his time writing letters to churches and pastors.
Paul told the Philippians to contend for the faith...meaning to defend the doctrines about the truths of grace and not to be afraid of those who opposed them (Philippians 1:27-28).
In Hebrews 13:9, Paul says for people not to be carried off by all kind of strange doctrines but to be strengthened in grace (the new covenant truths of Hebrews).
As Paul faced death, he told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1-2:
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Paul stressed to Timothy the importance of teaching others the truths of grace who could then teach others.
If doctrine wasn't important, why did he spend so much time writing to Timothy about doctrine in his final letter?
Nowhere does the Bible say that doctrine is not important or to forsake doctrine by replacing doctrine with respect and love for others.
Paul knew the doctrines of grace - all that God did for us through Christ- would be watered down with legalistic traditions of man, masquerading as doctrine (like the Pharisees and teachers of the law), so he instructed Timothy to teach the truths of grace (sound doctrine) to those who could teach grace to others.
These doctrinal truths could not be lost for all generations.
Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-5:
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
The context of these verses is that soon after Paul’s departure from earth, people would depart the sound doctrines of the truths of grace Jesus gave Paul to teach (see Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Hebrews, etc…).
This is why Paul told Timothy to teach others.
Paul told Timothy to pay close attention to his own doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16) so he could save himself and those he taught from the false doctrines of others.
The Bible emphasizes the importance of doctrine.
It emphasizes the importance of teaching doctrine.
I have only mentioned a very few areas of the Bible that stress the importance of doctrine.
Nowhere does the BIble say that doctrine is not important or to forsake doctrine by replacing doctrine with respect and love for others.
Are we to be loving and respectful when teaching doctrine...the truths of grace...all that God has done for us in Christ?
Paul instructed Timothy and Titus to be loving and respectful when teaching and refuting others.
We are to lovingly and respectfully speak the truths of grace...doctrine (Ephesians 4:15).
And yes...a person who is knowledgeable about the Bible, yet who is not loving and respectful causes much damage to others.
Love is important.
Jesus said people will know we are his disciples by our love.
Respect is important.
But the Bible is crystal clear that we are not to abandon doctrine by focusing only on loving others and respecting what they believe.
It is just the opposite.
We are to be loving and respectful, while at the same time teaching the doctrines of grace (all that God has done for us in Jesus and how to live in light of what he has done), defending these truths when they are opposed, and passing them on to others who can then teach others.