While I plan on developing this more fully, permit me if you will to scratch out some thoughts on this matter.
In the field of systematic theology, scholars have historically broken down and systematized the doctrines of Scripture into various categories:
- Bibliology: the doctrine of the nature of Scripture
- Theology: the doctrine of God
- Anthropology: the doctrine of man
- Pneumatology: the doctrine of the Holy Spirit
- Soteriology: the doctrine of salvation
- Ecclesiology: the doctrine of the church
- Eschatology: the doctrine of the end times/last things
While this word ‘doctrine’ may cause many inside and outside the church to break out in hives, we must realize that all of us live doctrinally. A doctrine is a teaching that arises out of a standard or text by which one lives and believes. So everyone lives doctrinally. Those who advocate so-called ‘same-sex’ marriage have a standard that they have constructed with the help of culture or other types of systems. Thus, any violation of this construct pricks their conscience—because a conscience is activated by whatever standard to which one adheres. This applies to any standard, even to those who claim to have no standards (which is in itself a standard, a doctrine).
When it comes to Christian doctrine, we have our standards that arise out of a responsible hermeneutic. And these doctrines must be in place in order to tell the world where we stand. We are in good company, because our culture has no trouble telling us where they stand. Make no mistake: we have doctrines of all sorts flying at us, subtly or no, and if we who are followers of Christ do not understand what Scripture teaches and are willing to stand on what Scripture says, even if the world calls us fools, so be it. But our response to what Scripture says exposes how we have ultimately responded to the One who gave it (Romans 1:18-32).
During the overview portion of this visioneering process, I quoted from Romans 8:5-8–
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (ESV).
In these four short verses, four truths are clear:
- Where we set our minds shows where we live in this life;
- Where we set our minds sets a trajectory toward death and life;
- Where we set our minds manifests our relationship to God, either hostile or reconciled.
- A mind set on the flesh cannot obey God’s law—it has no capability.
With this in mind, a Great Commandment Education is, most obviously, set upon affecting the mind. But even with this, there are limitations. Outside of Christ, our flesh has no ability to obey God’s law (“indeed, it cannot”).
So we must not isolate this from the other aspects of our Great Commandment Education. The progression is as follows:
- The heart is changed by truth, by the Word of God (Romans 10:17);
- The spirit of man is changed when God made us alive in Christ (John 3:3-8; Ephesians 2:4-7).
- The Holy Spirit indwells us, giving us the ability to understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:6-16).
- The Spirit pours the love of God in our hearts (Romans 5:1-5).
- Out of love for God, we want to learn as much about God and what He has revealed in His Word as we can (Psalm 119).
- His Word has teachings that arise out of this. Another word for teachings is ‘doctrines’ (Psalm 25:4-5).
- These doctrines galvanize our hearts by the Spirit to bring forth truth to those without Christ (1 Peter 3:15).
So we must recognize first of all that the moment you begin grounding anything on the Word of God, you must recognize that this Word quickens and this Word kills. The heart is changed not simply by an intellectual assent, but by the Spirit taking the truth and regenerating the heart so we can respond that that truth. The Word galvanized Moses, but hardened Pharaoh.
Yet there will be some that will make it very clear that they have rejected this Word as intolerant, bigoted, irrelevant, and must be silenced. The expositional teaching of the Scriptures does not simply expose the Word, but it exposes our motives and will as well.
So, in closing, an education/discipleship ministry has a clear doctrinal aspect that fuels the practical and spiritual aspect. Otherwise, we do what we do without knowing why we do it.