Doctrine-Less Unity?

Musician Michael Gungor has recently responded to Rob Bell’s No Hell controversy by waiving the white flag of doctrine-less unity:

Unity.  That’s what Jesus seemed to want for us more than anything else.

Unity under what?  That we would all believe the exact same doctrines?  That we would all have the same opinions about the afterlife?

Is the foundation of our faith Jesus AND our thoughts about the Bible and salvation and miracles and heaven and hell…etc  Or is the foundation of our faith Jesus and Jesus alone?

So we’re presented with dichotomy – either Jesus OR doctrine. Unity in Jesus vs. doctrine about  Jesus. You can have one, some say, but not the other.

Such a division in thought is false, and always has been. People with little concern for the truth of the Bible tend to scorn the theological statements of others, as did Erasmus to Luther (and Luther identified his tactics).

Without Truth, No Jesus
One of the embedded problem with “Jesus vs. Doctrine” is that some doctrine (though not all) is absolutely essential to understanding Jesus at all:

  • Who is Jesus? Is He God, or man, or both, or some hybrid?
  • How did He live? Did He ever sin?
  • What about the cross? What did it mean?
  • What about the resurrection?
  • How are we united to Christ?

The Bible’s answers to such questions are more than ideas; they are truths upon which we know Jesus Christ. Without truth, we know nothing of Him.

Theology is More Than Opinions
A second embedded problem with “Jesus vs. Doctrine” is that doctrine is more than “opinions.” Gungor likes to say that arguing about the afterlife is a matter of division and strife precisely because it is a matter of mere individual opinion. He writes, “Unity under what?  That we would all believe the exact same doctrines?  That we would all have the same opinions about the afterlife?”

His view is that knowing the person of Jesus has nothing to do with what we believe from the Bible – “Is the foundation of our faith Jesus AND our thoughts about the Bible and salvation and miracles and heaven and hell…etc?” To Gungor, all knowledge outside of Jesus’ person is less than fully knowable. It is all “opinion.”

But Mr. Gungor is wrong. At the risk of a pun, what we believe about the afterlife is truly a matter of life and death.

The White Flag is a Lie
People that cry “peace, peace” when there is no peace (Jeremiah 5:14, 8:11, 8:15, 12:12, 14:13) are often called “false prophets,” while the apostle Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 11:18-19 that such divisions in the church are necessary so that God’s family will know whose teaching to follow.

Now, Paul also warns often against evil divisions. They certainly can and often do hurt the local church, so we would do well to understand the twin differences between negative divisions and positive ones: a positive division is one conducted in a holy, loving manner, only over those foundational doctrines that are worth dividing over.

Mr. Gungor would have us believe that the Bible’s teaching on heaven and hell is not one of these doctrines; but Moses, the prophets, Jesus, Paul, and Peter would all disagree, since they spend quite a bit of time teaching on the subject and linking it always to the gospel. As the Jeremiah verses well show, false prophets are the ones who call out a false peace when there can be none.

Advertisements

About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

One Response to Doctrine-Less Unity?

  1. Pingback: New Series! « Your Cross on My Back

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: