Recently I have heard strange talk regarding the Illuminati, interesting ideas about aliens and some in depth Greek transliteration on hell. This topical exposure has presented some interesting thought in reminiscing on my own doctrinal journey.
The clean out
Apprehension overwhelmed me this morning as I entered into a personal clothes clean-out flurry. What if, all of a sudden, I want to wear the top or jeans I just ejected from my cupboard? Had I made an immense fashion mistake getting rid of them?
I managed to productively remove two bags of clothing from my life. However, it's a little scary now as I am analysing what I have left.
The clothes in my wardrobe bring a mysterious segue.
Lately I have been considering the practicalities of having doctrine and beliefs that one might fervently hold to.
Locked up in some doctrine can be misinformation and misunderstandings passed on through religions and in some cases mistranslation.
What doctrines do you glue to?
Alignment with beliefs regarding hell can affect thinking and perspective, which can become apparent in how we deal with people and how we view God. Beliefs about the end times and the rapture can influence worldviews and dictate, in such views, the steps believers must take to prepare themselves. Some might hold to strong procedural dogmas regarding baptism and this can create judgements on the journeys of others. We may have a strong view of sin and this plays out in our observation and treatment of people, including ourselves. Some may elevate the Bible above Jesus and employ verses to attack or condemn.
We can build up a wall of doctrine around us. We can then become very sensitive to anything coming against it. Anyone challenging our doctrine or thoughts we instantly feel offended by. The very next thought is wariness: "This person is off track".
Why do we have these responses?
Throughout history new denominations have risen and fallen and denominational divisions have emerged due to doctrines and belief systems.
A Rabbi to follow
In early Jewish history were the Rabbis (teachers). They were extremely respected and well educated in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). They were particularly knowledgeable about Jewish Law.
Anointed Rabbis had different interpretations of the Torah. A follower would align himself with a particular Rabbi based on the interpretations that corresponded with their own personal understanding. Even before Jesus, there were accepted differences in understanding 'doctrine'.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus says "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them". I note this verse does not add on the end, "as long as their doctrine is correct".
Jesus was called to judge or arbitrate several times during His earthly ministry. In most cases He was not interested in judging or taking sides. In fact, when people thought He should be on one particular side, He promptly advocated the opposing argument or remained neutral.
This is demonstrated in the book of Luke when a man asks, "Teacher (Rabbi), tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me". Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then He said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions".
I'm not sure what the man took from the response Jesus gave him. In his mind it wasn't fair. Surely he should get some of the inheritance? Surely Jesus wants his brother to do the most reasonable thing?
So what does this mean for our doctrines?
Slowly God chips away at our built up, inherited or incorrectly taught views of Him. He taps away at our doctrine and gently asks us to put down our fists of battle. He asks us to remove our lines drawn in the sand and look to Jesus. Our futile attempts to build things up around us, once pulled down, bring peace and freedom.
But it can be daunting letting go of our doctrinal walls. Like with my clothes situation, my brain begins to search what life might be like if I let something go. But I can't let it go. I've carried it around with me from house to house, state to state! Some items I've inherited and I don't even know how they got in my wardrobe!
My built up doctrine can act as a barrier from experiencing who God really is and affects my acceptance of His love and free gift.
What are our doctrinal walls breeding within us? Do we experience fear, weariness, anger and judgment? Or do we feel joy, acceptance, peace and freedom?
The renewing of the mind day after day is an honour and delight. The message we get from Jesus is love, acceptance, mercy and grace; and yes, in its fullness it will mess with your head, and your doctrine.
Belinda Croft has been writing for Press Service International since 2010. She lives in Melbourne with her husband Russell and their three children. Her passion for understanding the things of God in simple ways, social justice and news issues influence her writing style.
Belinda Croft's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/belinda-croft.html