The latest edition of the 9Marks Journal is entitled: Sound Doctrine: The Foundation of Faithful Ministry. I was honored to contribute the following article on the priority of teaching doctrine.
The apostle Paul’s ministry offers an ideal model for today’s pastor, but I fear it’s one many churches today have lost sight of. Consider Paul’s goals: “We proclaim Him, admonishing every person and teaching every person with all wisdom, so that we may present every person complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28, nasb).
He sought the spiritual maturity of every believer—Christlikeness. To this end the apostle employed Christ-centered proclamation and the teaching of biblical wisdom, of which Christ is the embodiment (Col. 2:3). So should we.
Sadly, evangelical churches today don’t share these priorities. Instead, there’s a noticeable shift away from theology toward something closer to therapy.
PRIORITIZING SOUND DOCTRINE
According to the Bible, pastors must prioritize teaching doctrine so that congregations learn to think theologically. Jesus commands us to make disciples by “teaching them to observe all that [He] commanded” (Matt. 28:20). “Teaching” comes from didasko, meaning “to give instruction.” The noun form simply means “doctrine.” Paul likewise says that elders possess oversight in order to protect against wolves “speaking twisted things” (Acts 20:30). They’re to equip the saints for the building up of the body, less church members be “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14).
And so, teaching doctrine was a high priority in the early church. The believers described in the early chapter of Acts were “continually devoting themselves to . . . teaching”—that is, to doctrine (Acts 2:42).
The Thessalonians, too, responded to the gospel with eagerness and applied it to their lives. Paul writes, “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia” (1 Thess. 1:6–7).
Evangelical pastors today, however, have shown less interest in teaching theology and more interest in offering therapy. One scholar studied thirty years of the periodical Christianity Today, particularly its column “A Layman and His Faith,” and then offered this conclusion: Continue reading…