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What Is A Doctrine? October 18, 2014

Posted by stevekerp in Discipleship, Non-accumulation.

Before we can intelligently discuss whether or any doctrine is true, we need to agree on the definition of “doctrine.” We’ll go from there to a clear statement of the doctrine of nonaccumulation, and then we will be in a position to compare the doctrine with the scriptures to determine whether it is true or false.

NOTE:  I’ve been using the term “doctrine of nonaccumulation” because I’m relying heavily on Roger Hertzler’s work and that is the term he uses.  I don’t like it.  I prefer “doctrine of distribution” because the Biblical injunction is to distribute to those who have need.  In other words, if one Christian “accumulates” two coats and his brother has none, a “non-accumulation” requirement could be met if he simply burned one coat.  The purpose of the commandment is not to deprive, but to supply (Luke 3:11).  Also, while the word “nonaccumulation” does not appear in the scriptures, “distribute” does, in a passage we will consider as we proceed.

Some dictionary definitions of “doctrine” include:

1. a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.

2. a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government

3. something that is taught; teachings collectively: religious doctrine

4. a body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject

You get the idea. My working definition is that, for our purposes anyway, a doctrine is a statement that is presented as a Biblical truth, and that has moral implications. For example, the Bible says “thou shalt not steal.” The Bible also says that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand (see Isaiah 37:36). Both are Biblical truths, but the first has a moral imperative and the second does not. That a Christian should not steal is a doctrinal position. There are consequences involved for those who believe this is true, AND for those who don’t.

If a doctrine has been defined well, the decision to accept or reject it becomes a simple”yes or no” question. The answer should be either yes, we accept it as a true doctrine, or no, we reject it as a false doctrine. There shouldn’t be much room for saying, “Well, I accept part of it,” or “Well, there’s some truth to it, but there needs to be some balance.” These statements may be appropriate when it comes to the practical applications of the doctrine. But they are not valid responses to the question of whether we accept the doctrine itself as a true doctrine.

The preceding statement by Roger Hertzler speaks for itself. In subsequent posts, we will look at the doctrine of distribution as stated in my last post. We will see exactly what it is, what it demands and what it forbids, and then we will compare this doctrine with the scriptures and come to a settled conclusion on the question, “is this doctrine true or false?”

One final thought before today’s action step:

Whatever it is that Jesus means by His command in Luke 12:33, He does not intend for it to bring us into bondage, but rather to set us free. If we will but submit ourselves to this command, it becomes a doorway into some of the most wonderful opportunities we could possibly imagine.

Today’s Action Step: Go through your home and take an eyeball inventory of all your things. (Don’t do this in your imagination – you need to actually do this.) Next, imagine that your home burned to the ground and all your things were destroyed.

Answer this question: If the insurance settlement would cover 100% of the loss, how much of the stuff you lost would you actually want to replace? See if you can come up with a percentage (if you’re married, both of you can do this and then see if your numbers agree).

Post comments below. We’ll continue this discussion on Monday.



1. Cheerfulness | Anakypto Afterthoughts - October 21, 2014

[…] Action Step:  Review the action step from What Is A Doctrine? and identify an item or two that you would not have replaced.  Look on eBay or Craig’s […]


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