Friday, December 6, 2013

Doctrine vs. Theology

These days (oh who am I kidding... since the beginning of time) many people confuse "doctrine" with "theology".  These are not synonyms.
[semantics?  eh, they've become that, so substitute whatever catch phrases you like to get the point:]

Doctrine is a set of ideas that are taught or are believed to be true.
Similarly, the definition for Dogma is a set of beliefs that are accepted by the members without question.

Theology is the study of God (faith, experience, God's relation to His world and His people).

Doctrine is a set of traditions, taught my man, founded by man, passed on by man.

Theology is the study of and (attempted) understanding of God (not the study of tradition) through scripture.

Doctrine:  based on man
Theology: based on scripture
Doctrine: tradition
Theology: God's actual words
Doctrine: details
Theology: God

Am I saying that doctrine is bad?  No.  Am I saying tradition is bad?  No.
What I am saying is that tradition (no matter how good or beautiful) is no substitute for God's words.  Just because we/they/I/you have done something a long time, even a really, really, really long time, doesn't make it Gospel.  No matter how long mankind follows a tradition, it does not a command of Jesus make.

It's dangerous and arrogant to confuse tradition, doctrine, and dogma with theology (based on actual scripture).
Jesus was not pomp and circumstance, he was not legalistic, he was not a denomination (not my denomination, not your denomination, let's stop putting him in little tiny boxes that our feeble minds can understand and control).

Jesus was shockingly simple in the face of insurmountable detail, gracious and merciful and lowly from the (high) seat of absolute power.  He was, is, will be, I AM, relentless and reckless love without bounds.

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