Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Doctrine vs Theology?

Lanny has been teaching the Covenant Class this month. It is a study of Acts, and he has been sending out daily emails with thoughts about the next week's lesson. I thought these comments from a couple of days ago were insightful...

One of the problems with religion over the last two thousand years is that religious men scour scripture looking for doctrine (what man must do), when they ought to be looking for theology (what God is doing).

Historically, we have pointed to this passage (Acts 6) as the beginning of the deaconate - or the office of deacon. It may well be. But God's purpose was not to establish offices or a hierarchy of leadership - but to solve and serve the needs of His people.

Now I understand why a group who determines doctrine from "restoration principles" (direct command, apostolic example, necessary inference) would use this text as a foundation for doctrine.

What we should be doing is looking for theology, not doctrine. There are several examples of "divine desire" presented in this story:

(1) No one should be overlooked. God's church is about love, compassion, mercy, grace, caring, bearing burdens, lifting up, encouragement, meeting needs, responsibility to others, etc. God has a heart for the alienated and marginalized. So should we.

(2) God always solved practical problems with practical solutions. He wants the church to do the same. It's not a matter of doctrine, but one of caring. When we care for one another, we glorify His name.

Remember people are watching. Unbelievers are taking notice, not of how we organize our church polity (our form and rules), but how we take care of the needs of others in the name of Christ.

Throughout the New Testament, the church employs various strategies to solve problems and set up organizational structures.

Again, I don't think the important aspect is a doctrinal one, but a theological one. What is God doing in the community of believers? And what must we do to accomplish His divine desire?

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