Doctrine Vs. Experience Vs. Jesus

I wish to be clear from the start: “contending for the faith” and concern for “sound doctrine” is a clear command and call particularly in the New Testament. I want to be equally clear that “Now I have in part”, “At present WE have in part” means nobody you know, have heard or read including you and I HAS IT ALL FIGURED OUT CORRECTLY.

“We have the mind of Christ” does not fully and completely eliminate mystery and it is mystery that makes a great many Protestants (of which I am one at least in a hybrid sense) often protest!

That is, many of the “love God with all your mind” folk are often as uncomfortable with mystery as those who focus on loving Him with “heart, soul, might” are with hard doctrinal studies and coming to a solid place of position on at least, major teachings of Jesus and the rest of the Word of God.

All this means that there are two large pools of Christians among Protestants in this regard.

An extreme illustration of this might be, say, deeply charismatic/pentecostal believers and/or Catholic or Orthodox (Eastern Church) folk who at times engage in “mystical experience” and may seem to ignore the other pools’ approach, that being fundamentalist or Reform doctrine by which all else is measured as either kosher or bogus.

I’m repeating what I’ve said plenty, but I think the extremists at both ends of both spectrums of the Church need one another and need to grow up. One side fears and runs from “dead letter churchianity” while the other often harshly judges and criticizes all but a very few (typically independent or mega-isolationist) for their “false, [sometimes adding ‘damnable’] doctrines” nearly or actually un-christianizing a major portion of professing Christ-followers world-wide. In simple terms “they aren’t in full agreement with us or our group” and therefore are in league with Babylon, the devil, the world.

Such attitudes and outright neglect of love, grace, mercy and unity have been going on since Cain and Abel, none of this is new or for that matter ought to be surprising though many a fresh, young Christian is confused and struggles upon discovering such enmity in the body of Christ.

Then of course we have people taking sides with their favorite “Paul or Apollos”, lobbing verbal salvos across the divides.

Indeed the first word in Protestant is protest…

Jesus did not come, suffer, die and rise again for His Church to remain babes, neither in doctrine nor spiritual experience with Father/Son/Spirit, but certainly not for us to blow right past “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” -Colossians 3.14

The point of doctrine is love, that is, the relational LOVE of CHRIST: believed, experienced, shared.

The false idea that we are all going to agree with one another on every pinhead of doctrine or experience (be it actual/real or imagined) is itself foolish and immature.

Wisdom is to realize hopefully sooner rather than later, that we are often quite as flawed and petty as those we judge flawed and petty.

Self-righteousness can spill out of the hard, harsh doctrinaire and convinced pond just as it can the “deeper truth/higher light” experiential stream -and both regardless of age, knowledge or experience can and often do lack wisdom and actual love for others.

“Absolutely Correct belief” as well as “Correct experience” in the “WE GOT IT -DOWN-, THE REST OF YOU NEED TO GET WITH IT!!” misses the core element of Jesus’ life and teaching for imperfect but forgiven saints.

If loving God and others -including those you dislike or disagree with- isn’t what Jesus preached, commanded and modeled for His disciples, if this isn’t the very core of both doctrine and experience for the professing believer, I suppose you will have to be satisfied with the soon-to-be-passing-away shell -note shell, not ground- of spiritual correctness and spirituality you’ve planted your flag on.

Be certain of this- Jesus doesn’t share all your beliefs or preferences. I have no illusions He shares all mine either!

When you finally recognize the truth in that, you begin to understand the depth of our need for humility and spiritual growth in both doctrine and experience. You also recognize our continual need for repentance. May God help us mature in HIM!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

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