My Quest For Discernment Led Me To Want Sound Doctrine


Over 22 years ago, I began investigating The Alpha Course, which became particularly popular in America during the late 1990s. My investigation led me to study other movements within evangelical circles, aided by the newly developed Internet. Suddenly I had access to a whole new way of researching people and trends that flew across the Christian landscape, and I was fascinated.

Yet article after article seemed to go back to a singular refrain: Christians needed to know sound doctrine in order to discern whether a person or trend was okay. I would read critiques on various teachers and teachings, only to find counsel to learn sound doctrine and guard it.

This emphasis on doctrine confused me. Since becoming a Christian in high school, I’d been involved in nondenominational churches with varying degrees of Charismatic influences. Those churches held an unspoken attitude that doctrine should be minimized in favor of personal experiences of Jesus and avoiding conflict with our brothers and sisters in Christ. On occasion, someone would actually say that doctrine divides Christians and therefore we should ignore it as much as possible. (I don’t know how we got away with claiming that we followed the Bible.) Of course, the distancing from doctrine was subtle, so I really don’t believe our pastors knew that the churches discouraged doctrine to the extent that they did.

Reading those articles on discernment left me wondering what sound doctrine was and how I could learn it. Sometimes I fear that The Outspoken TULIP might leave a few of you asking yourselves what sound doctrine is. If so, that’s a failure on my part.

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