~ 29 March 2004 ~

Sign of the Times

A good friend of mine sends out a periodic email entitled, “Bad Church Sign of the Week.” It’s a rather hilarious compendium of trite phrases gone bad. Most of them try to be clever—something to make you think. Usually, that’s as far as it goes. No one really tries to make a deep theological point on a church sign (if they do they usually fail). Except for one I saw this weekend:

“Example Moves the World More Than Doctrine”

This seemingly benign statement says more about the crisis in the church than it lets on. To be sure, doctrine and theology as merely abstract disciplines do little for the kingdom of God. Doctrine must be worked out and lived out in a person’s life to be effective.

The problem is that this sign presupposes the notion that all doctrine is merely abstract thought and doctrine is something far removed from example. This notion is far from the truth. In fact, it is very hard to be a good example without being informed by good, solid doctrine. Examples that are not anchored in a theology of the Word are examples that will usually be based on whimsy. The example that “seems best” will be followed, regardless whether or not it is biblical. Churches and individuals should heed the words of the proverb, “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 16:25)

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3 Comments:

  1. Bill Wallo » 29 March 2004:

    To me, it seems like the whole faith v. works thing. Works alone aren’t enough; neither is faith. One must believe the word; then one must do it.

  2. rebecca » 29 March 2004:

    Aaah….but one who REALLY believes the word begins to do it. Truly believing is what moves one from the category of hearer only into hearer and doer. And truly believing is what moves doctrine out of the abstract world of mental assent to certain right ideas (orthodoxy) and into the world of truly righteous actions (orthopraxy), for a right action not founded in right reasons and right motives is worthless–a filthy rag.

    Embracing right doctrine is the foundational step toward the right example that moves the world. Without that foundation of right doctrine, you’re not doing any earth-shaking, you’re just throwing a lot of sand.

  3. Ochuk » 29 March 2004:

    Wow. That is sad.

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