my doctrine on doctrine

Doctrine is great, it’s a great way to put theological beliefs and statements into memorable, “carry-on” formats.  The Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Westminster Catechism, etc. all take big theological systems and put them into a simpler format.  Which is a great thing for the church and the church people, it allows non-clergy to better know their own theology without having to have studied it for several years, and it allows the clergy to better teach it without teaching it for years.  In this way it is fantastic.
Of course with this, and like many other things, I also have my disagreements with how it is used.
Rob Bell prefers to look at doctrine as springs on a trampoline and not bricks in a wall as do some people.  I can see the legitimacy of this.  If they are bricks on a wall, then lose one brick and you risk the wall failing to serve its purpose, but lose a spring in a trampoline you risk less.  Now of course if you lose too many springs the trampoline no longer serves a purpose, but lose say 3 or 4 and you’re doing O.K., whereas 3 or 4 bricks puts a pretty big hole in the wall.

Why do I prefer the trampoline analogy?  Because I like trampolines, but never had one?  Well not really… I prefer it because it helps me to see that not every doctrine is necessary to enjoy a relationship with Christ.  Rob Bell uses the example of the Virgin Birth, what if we got rid of it?  Would that severely impact my ability to enjoy Christ?  No.  I wrestled with the idea for a while whilst studying theology (I would say I didn’t truly believe it during that time) in my undergrad and my relationship and joy in Christ was not impacted by it.  It also allows me to love people and serve alongside them even though we don’t totally agree theologically.  If they don’t believe in the Virgin Birth so what?  I can still enjoy God’s grace with them.  But if I am to look at this doctrine as a matter of structural integrity then I will be morbidly concerned about it, and I no longer can enjoy Christ with them because I am trying to convert them to the doctrine.
It also allows me the freedom to allow someone to grow in their faith and theology overtime.  It allows their growth to be conversational and not of a lecture.  It allows them the freedom to learn and develop without the pressure of either hiding or admitting things they do not believe so that they aren’t excluded or lectured.  Conversion can happen without having to convert to a whole other theology, they can mold themselves without being forced into a belief system they don’t fit into yet.

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