Christian doctrine can make one mean

Frank Viola has posted on Deep Ecclesiology, taken from the Afterword of his book From Eternity to Here. I found in it this interesting passage, from which I have emphasised a very quotable quote:

After I got off the eschatology bandwagon, I was introduced to something called “Christian theology” and “Christian doctrine.” I was taught that the most important thing that God wants for His people is that they know and embrace “sound doctrine.” So I rigorously studied the Scriptures, along with the views of Calvin, Arminius, Luther, and many contemporary theologians and scholars. …

But during that season, I made another discovery. Namely, that Christian doctrine can make a person downright mean. I observed that the men who were the most schooled in Christian doctrine and the most concerned about “sound theology” did not resemble Jesus Christ at all in their behavior. Instead, they seemed to center their lives on making the unimportant critical.

The spirit of the Lamb was altogether missing. They were harsh personalities who appeared to almost hate those with whom they disagreed. Granted, there is a doctrine in the New Testament. But majoring on Christian doctrine and theology can turn Christians into in­quisitors. The words of Thomas Aquinas are fitting: “Lord, in my zeal for love of truth, let me not forget the truth about love.”

This is only one of several areas of today’s Christian life about which Frank expresses his concern. Others include “Revivalist Theology”, “The Power of God”, and eschatology. Frank describes his personal journey through all of “things” until he realised that

We do not need things. We need Jesus Christ. … Jesus Christ is the embodiment of all Divine things.


Frank then goes on to apply this to his vision of the church. Read it. Almost at the end he sums up his message:

When a church is centered on the ultimacy of Christ, it no longer chases Christian “things” or “its.” Knowing Christ, exploring Him, encountering Him, honoring Him, and loving Him becomes the church’s governing pursuit.

0 thoughts on “Christian doctrine can make one mean

  1. Excellent post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it is oh so very true. We must be called back to Him in the middle of our “rightness” to embrace once again His righteousness imparted.

  2. Excellent and very appropriate for the time. There are so many places that absolutely emulate the sad picture he painted.

    And perhaps, the most worrisome thought, is that we are churning out such types from our universities in droves. 🙁

  3. Thanks for the comments. Yes, TL, I really worry that student Christian groups and student churches are still churning out (as they did with me, more than 30 years ago) so many students who are strong on sound doctrine but weak on personal relationship with God, and also often weak on love to the extent that they come across as mean.

  4. Pingback: Essex vicar: "worship is useless" - Gentle Wisdom

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