It seems that many modern churches shy away from talking about doctrine. Perhaps they have seen it abused in the past with frivolous doctrinal debates and the teaching of graceless dogma. Then again there is a whole trend towards “seeker sensitive” services which are geared towards making the unchurched feel comfortable at church. To that end sermons are much more focused creating a certain kind of experience and are more self-help oriented. Doctrine is avoided because it is the dry, lifeless stuff in the background. I think this is really a shame because the doctrine is really some of the most exciting stuff.
Doctrine is the sharp, piercing sword behind belief. It gives what otherwise could be a cloudy faith some teeth and a backbone. It creates a line that says, “You shall not pass.” It is in its own way romantic and marvelous. Orthodoxy doctrine proclaims that Jesus was God and man. He was God that walked on the earth. To really understand this is to realize how offensive it is to all other religions and beliefs systems in the world. Further is to realize how much like a fairy tale or great myth it sounds like. If we don’t feel its weight it is likely because our understanding of God and our understanding of man is shallow.
Orthodoxy doctrine proclaims our fall. In the words of G.K. Chesterton we are the survivors of a golden ship that went down. From unimaginable greatness we have fallen through a curse. How many stories are about an ordinary person who discovers they were really royalty or someone great? (Star Wars anyone). We are such, incapable of breaking free on our own. We need a Deliverer to come free us from the slavery and bondage we are in.
Doctrine presents something old and ancient. All of us want to be part of something older and larger than ourselves. Orthodoxy presents one long root, reaching back into the past, which we can be a part of. It provides something to ground ourselves with in a world which is always shifting and changing. We become a part of the same unbroken line as Peter, Augustine, Athanasius, and Martin Luther.
If you look back at the past you will see a curious thing about orthodoxy Christian doctrine. People are always proclaiming its death, only to die themselves. Marx’s communism is crumbling all over the world while the opiate for the mass is strong as ever. Nietzsche is dead and Freud’s religion of wish fulfillment is wish fulfillment. Even the New Atheists will eventually find themselves old, while orthodoxy Christianity will continue to be alive and fresh in each new age.