All the religions and denominations of each religion would say the same thing. That they are the ones who have the market cornered on understanding completely sound doctrine. Speaking of just Christianity alone, with dozens of denominations, each with their own interpretation of what the Bible says, how are we to know what is truth and what is either lies or mistakes?
Furthermore, how could people of God, applying prayer and listening to the same Holy Spirit, be able to come to some sharply different conclusions on what the Bible is saying?
As I have become a preacher, I realize that it is my responsibility to understand and promote only truth, both in conversation, and especially from the pulpit. And so I have done research and explored the various options of doctrines available in plenty today. And I have come to my conclusions, while remaining open minded to grow and learn as I mature in Christ and in my understandings.
Let it be said that I have approached each opportunity to learn on a doctrine from a skeptics perspective first. I even approached Christianity as a whole from a skeptics perspective, then I approached church, denominations, collection plates, and all of it, as a skeptic first. And for each thing that I accept now, be it process or doctrine, I do so not because some denomination told me to, or because I was blindly following some leader. I did so because I skeptically and open mindedly pursued knowledge through logic, and research to come to my own intellectual conclusions. And if you have enjoyed my devotionals and other posts, you may be able to relate to me as a skeptic first, and a tester of all things before accepting anything.
To that end, I have one non-negotiable rule when accepting a doctrine. Which is that it must be Biblical. If I can not find it in the Bible, then I reject it. Keeping in mind that one of my first intellectual endeavors was to determine if I could trust the Bible itself. Now that I know I can, I do, and I use it as my plumb line for everything. Now “because the Bible tells me so” is a phrase that holds weight. If you are among those who do not trust the Bible for one reason or the other, I encourage you to listen to my message “Why I Trust The Bible” – CLICK HERE. There are a number of other great resources out there which I can point you toward, so if you need this, just ask using the contact page or by leaving a comment below.
Summarize this all to say that nobody, and nothing can reveal a doctrine that is sound and truthful if it is incompatible with the revelations already given to us in Gods Bible.
Galatians 1:8 – But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!
But this rule of requiring a doctrine to be in the Bible only helps me to defend against another religion, or a para-christian religion like Catholicism, Mormonism, and JW’s. This rule does not help as much when trying to defend against false doctrines that come from Christian protestants of various backgrounds.
So my second rule is that we must be interpreting the Bible correctly. From what I can tell, much of the false doctrines circulating among protestants is the result of misinterpretation of scripture due to lack of context. Once we dig into the history of the setting, the author’s intention for his writings, the audience who was receiving the words, the original language used, and various other cultural concepts, we start to see whole new layer unravel as we interpret scripture.
My last rule is that I also rely on the early church traditions to help me. I figure if I just came up with a new doctrine, or if I am the first to realize a doctrine, I am probably wrong. God has been revealing Himself to believers for a very long time, and I would be at a loss if I did not take the time to appreciate the studies of believers who have come before me. Especially since I am not the most scholarly of saints. But I can not rely on early church traditions alone to ensure I am on to sound doctrine, because as early as you can look back in history, there has been false doctrines presenting themselves to distract believers from sound doctrine practices.
With these things in mind, I rely completely on the Holy Spirit to guide me. I remember as an early believer, just as curious as ever, I would go online and research various interesting Christian topics. As I would, my search engine would take me immediately to the site that was the safest and most informative for what I needed. Now that I am a bit more mature and discerning, when I search, I often have to dig through some distracting information before I find the research of quality and integrity I desire to rely on.
This is evidence to me that the Holy Spirit used to guide my searches for information when I was most in need of Him to do so, but now that I have matured, the Holy Spirit lets me walk on my own without as much hand holding because I can be trusted to discern and use the wisdom of God to see through lies.
I hope this has helped you with your walk with the Lord.
Pastor CJ Counts