Tag Archives: jonathan edwards

The Exceedingly Great Importance of Doctrine

Is it just me, or has doctrine fallen on some really hard times?

I’m not trying to be funny here, honest. But an exchange I had recently with a friend started me thinking (again) about this issue. Take a look around today’s evangelical fishbowl and you’ll see people who are scared by doctrine, people who are annoyed by doctrine, and people who are flat-out indifferent to doctrine. Rarely will you see people with an earnest love for doctrine.

Of the three reactions named above, I find indifference to be the most unsettling. Why? Because indifference, as Carl Trueman observes, is the plague of modern Western culture in general and evangelicalism in particular. Because it is “at best the result of intellectual laziness, at worst a sign of moral abdication.”

Such indifference is on brazen display in comments like this one: Doctrine really isn’t all that important to me. I just want discipleship. I just want to become more like Christ.

Can anybody else say vague?

We need doctrine. Not because it saves us, but because it is important to understand the whys and wherefores of our Christian faith. Doctrine is teaching, and the crucial teachings of the church are the ones relating to truth about God. And this is unimportant… how?

“It is of exceedingly great importance,” writes Jonathan Edwards, “that we should have right notions and conceptions of the nature, attributes, and perfections of God.

It is the very foundations of all religion, both doctrinal and practical; it is to no purpose to worship God, except we know what we worship… It is impossible we should love, fear, and obey God as we ought, except we know what He is, and have right ideas of His perfections, that render Him lovely and worthy to be feared and obeyed.

Can anybody else say amen?