One of the common statements made by preachers of many denominations today is that we don’t need the doctrines we need Jesus. A false dichotomy is set up between doctrines and Jesus. Jesus is portrayed as a live being in whom we have a relationship, while doctrine is seen as a dry boring addition. Some may argue that it is important, but why take the doctrines when you have Jesus?
Sometimes preachers talk about this by saying, “I would rather have the Gospel then to have doctrines!” I heard one preacher argue, “I would rather have my wife than to have studies about my wife!” That is an interesting and true statement, however we must keep in mind that doctrine is simply our understanding of God and things about God. It is out attempt to codify these things.
Separates Analytical from Experiential
One major flaw with this sentiment that we want Jesus over Doctrine is that it promotes privileging the experiential over the analytical. By that I mean this “relationship with Jesus” is more important than study about “who Jesus was and what Jesus did” which is normally doctrine.
In short how do you know the one who you are having a relationship with is the true Jesus of the Bible if you do not have doctrine to inform that knowledge? Certainly we will ever be knowing throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. And that knowledge will deepen our experience with Jesus.
In short, both go together, you need the experience to give fuel to our Christian experience, but we need knowledge to steer the Christian experience in the right way. It is noteworthy that the Spirit will “guide us into all truth.” Certainly this include experiential and analytical knowledge.
Shallow versus Deep Knowing
Another problem is that this mindset promotes shallow versus deep knowing. Doctrine is simply a bringing together of our knowledge on a subject and attempting to test and understand it. Certainly this is a strong analytical component, but it informs our experince as noted above.
However, if we downplay the analytical, the hard work, we end up with a shallow experience that only cares about the simple things. This is the problem that Hebrews has problems with. We end up still spiritual babes because we dont’ want to go on into more truth.
Generic versus Specific Knowing
The mindset finally promotes a generic knowing. The kind of knowing that you can get in 5 minutes or by listening to the next 10 word praise song. “Jesus is Good…Jesus is Good…Jesus is Good…Yes he is.” This promotes a generic knowing that has little depth as noted above and eliminates the analytical.
I don’t want to know the generic Jesus that takes 5 minutes to get to know. I want to know the Biblical Jesus. Certainly the 5 minute knoweldge is good at the beginning of our Chrsitian walk, but if 5 years from now that is all you have, the Hebrews admonition will hit us squarely in the eyes.
I Want to Know the Real Jesus
If I want to know the real Jesus, then I need to know something about the Great High Priest. That’s Doctrine. Christ want’s us to follow him in to the holiest of All. The Bible says that we are to enter the throne of grace to obtain mercy. If you want to know Jesus, fiind out about your high priest.
If I want to know the real Jesus, certainly I will be watchful of the signs of his second coming. That’s doctrine. Lift up the trumpet and loud let it ring, Jesus is coming again.
If I want to know the real Jesus, certainly I want to know about the fact that life is only tied up in our connection to Jesus. Apart from him is nothing but eternal death which is to be asleep. That’s doctrine.
I want to know Jesus. If I want to know the real Jesus, certainly I want to know about the fact that our Salvation is demonstrated and renewed in our minds through the only day he blessed, rested, and sanctified, which is the 7th day sabbath. That’s Doctrine!!!
If I want to know the real Jesus then I gotta know about about God’s final message of warning to the world called the Three Angels message that is there to keep us in our saved state. That’s Doctrine!!
Yes we need experiential interaction with Jesus, but we cannot deprecate the doctrines as if they are problematic. It ain’t the doctrines, it is a lack of experiencing them and making them relevant. Perhaps we preachers need to find out why God gave us these doctrines instead of putting them down.