Friday, July 26, 2013
The Importance of Theological and Doctrinal Orthodoxy
Over the past couple years I have come to realize the importance of adhering to proper historical Christian orthodoxy and theological study. In thinking this out, it was very easy to reflect on my early Christian walk and life. As a young Christian, I do not think I fully considered the necessity of deep theological reflection in the public outworking of what I considered “ministry.” In fact, in my limited view (Both of theology and ministry,) theology only seemed to serve as a barrier to what I and others considered ‘effective ministry.’
Adhering to proper historical Christian orthodoxy and theological study is both important and necessary if nothing because it informs the heart and mind concerning the truths of God. It is by His sovereign grace that He illumines our hearts and minds to His revealed truths, but surely ‘studying to show ourselves approved’ help to undergird and establish the convictions regarding the essential doctrines of the faith that are needed in everyday life and ministry. These convictions are necessary for a life of consistent faithfulness to Christ. On the contrary, a lack of study and knowledge in this area can be a cause for detriment in the life of the believer. The Apostle Paul himself was concerned with these things when inspired by God the Holy Spirit he wrote these words to the Galatian church,
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” 2 (Gal. 3:1)
It seems Paul is very concerned with doctrine here. He seems very concerned with theological truths. At what point was the heart of the Galatian church led from the truth claims concerning Christ and his crucifixion? At what point did adherence to the law become the standard of Christian life? Their theology of faith and the Christ’s crucifixion were being challenged; and it seemed apparent to Paul that the false doctrine that entered into the Galatian discourse was winning the day.
I believe this is a lesson for us as well in the contemporary church. For example, if the nature of Christ and the historicity surrounding His crucifixion is marred by man-made traditions and heresies; how can preachers of the Word rightly proclaim salvation to the lost if our ministries are marked by a lack of dogmatic orthodoxy? What is the substance of “Christian ministry” if there is not a tangible sense by our hearers that Christian orthodoxy/theology is important to the congregation? In that regard there is nothing that separates the local congregation devoid of orthodoxy, from the Para-church, non-profit or community based organization. Foster programs, feeding the homeless, repairing homes are all noble causes in the interest of being sociable and gracious to the greater community; but they do not have a direct effect on illumining the hearts of men through the right preaching and expository proclamation of God’s Word.
In this regard, orthodox Christian theology informs our conviction towards right preaching; and the study of theology undergirds the faithfulness by which men preach solidly for a lifetime. Even in the context of community outreach ministry, neither lost persons nor anyone receiving the benefits of service should be confused as to the impetus and inspiration for our Christian ministry (That of faithfulness to orthodox gospel proclamation.) This fight for historic Christian orthodoxy is a fight that must be fought every day in the ministry as we look forward to the consummation of all things and the glories to come.