|Volume 24 Number 5 May 2022
An Absurd but Sincere Statement
Ernest S. Underwood
The importance of true doctrine is plainly and forcefully taught in the Scriptures. Even the casual and untrained eye can readily observe this simple truth. One who desires to please God, yet expresses a diminishing attitude toward doctrine, indicates that he has been taught by word or by example to have such an attitude. Our soul’s salvation depends upon adhering to true and sound doctrine as it is revealed in God’s holy Word. Notice a few passages that teach this great truth.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21 NKJV).
“But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).
“…that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3).
“…and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:10).
“…you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17).
“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God…” (2 John 9).
With such an array of passages pointing out the absolute necessity of teaching, defending and obeying sound doctrine (many more such passages could be produced), it is almost inconceivable that one could misunderstand the importance of teaching and of abiding in true doctrine. However, just recently one who was apparently sincere in her statement voiced the following words: “Winning souls is more important than doctrinal differences.” In answer to such a statement, we would emphatically affirm that one cannot win even one soul to Christ without the pure and sound doctrine. This is why denominationalism is wrong. It wins many souls to its creeds, but none are won to Christ by its teachings.
We would ask some questions concerning this lady’s remark. Did she learn this attitude toward true doctrine from the Bible? Did any apostle, any writer of Scripture or the Lord Himself ever set forth anything akin to this position? Of course, the answer to both questions is a resounding, “No!” The fact of the matter is that these taught exactly the opposite. Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:22-23). Again, He stated, “‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves’” (Matthew 23:15). Paul spoke of those who “…by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:18), and Peter warned of those false teachers who with their damnable heresies would cause many to follow them (2 Peter 2:1-2).
If this lady did not learn her attitude toward the true and sound doctrine from these biblical characters, then from whom did she learn and adopt a position that is totally devoid of scriptural sanction? The answer obviously is that someone taught it to her.
There are two ways by which we teach – by word or by example. It is difficult to believe and accept that there are any members of the church who would openly allege in a classroom type situation that doctrine is not of any significance or importance, implying that it can be laid aside in some given situations. Perhaps there really are such members in our area, but I happily admit that I do not personally know them. However, it is a sad and true fact that this ungodly doctrine has been taught by example. There are those who, though teaching no false doctrine by their words, have openly and flagrantly denied some great truths of God’s Word by their actions.
God, through His inspired Word, said, “…have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). These teachers have extended full and open fellowship to those doers of unfruitful works. God commanded concerning our relationship with those who have not abided in the doctrine, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11). It is a well-known and open fact that there are men (some of them preachers) who have flown in the face of God’s commandments and have not only extended fellowship and bidden Godspeed to several false teachers, but they have used every subtle device at their command to put pressure on others to also extend such fellowship to heretics. Faithful saints have been severely criticized, while those who openly teach error on such subjects as Marriage-Divorce-Remarriage, the Holy Spirit and Worship are welcomed with open arms and high praise.
Such actions teach a much more powerful lesson than those words expressed in a classroom. This being the case, one can easily perceive how one who may not be skilled in the handling of God’s Word, but who is apparently sincere, can make such a foolish and ungodly statement. The sister in Christ who contrasted doctrine and evangelism was taught an improper and ungodly attitude toward the Word of God by the examples of her teachers. Jesus told His disciples that when “…the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14).
That sin has been committed by those who have taught this ungodly attitude, and by any who have adopted it, is evident. This teaching has rent asunder the beautiful unity that once existed among the Lord’s church – “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16) – in America and around the world. It is a terrible thing to be guilty of rending the body of Christ by false teaching. We respectfully call upon all who are guilty of such sin to genuinely repent so that the unity which once existed can be restored. There can be no unity on any less terms than obedience to God’s law.
[Editor’s Note: Attitude, inclusive of an emotional investment, along with the Truth – the Word of God – are absolutely indispensable to all aspects of true Christianity. This is indicative in John 4:23-24, which reads, “…true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Attitude and the Truth – and the contrast between error and truth – are apparent in Ephesians 4:14-15, too. “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ.” ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]