Monday, March 22, 2010

The Importance of a Firm Doctrinal Foundation

I just started reading Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris. One of Harris’ purposes for writing the book is to convince people to study doctrine and theology. While he believes doctrine is important, it seems like most Christians, or at least younger ones, do not believe it is important. For many, doctrine is boring, does not apply to real life, and is something better left for pastors and old men. I agree with Harris; doctrine is important and relevant.

In the first two chapters, Harris explains the purpose of studying theology. Theology provides the foundation for our lives. In the biblical story, mostly taught to children, Jesus explained that the wise man built his house upon the rock and the foolish man built his house upon the sand. Often we think the foolish man is the non-Christian and the Christian is the wise man. However, the passage (Luke 4:46-49) begins with Jesus asking, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?” The audience was composed of people who were, at least at that time, following Jesus. They were at least somewhat religious. Furthermore, the foolish man is described as the “one who hears and does not do [the words of Jesus].” Harris concludes, “He’s talking to people who claim to believe in God.” Even a religious person can still be foolish by not building upon the rock. So, if you want to be the wise man, you will build upon the rock, a solid foundation. You build upon the rock by accepting the truth of Jesus and applying it to your life. When problems and trials come (the flood in the parable), you will survive because you have the rock as your foundation.

Harris follows this explanation with some examples of why the foundation is important. These examples prompted me to remember the storm that Sandy and I experienced this fall, and in some ways are still experiencing. In October, Sandy was 20 weeks pregnant and we had a miscarriage. It is impossible for me to explain all of my emotions and thoughts since then. The best way I can explain it is “DEVASTATING”. I don’t know how else to explain it. I experienced incredible hurt; more hurt than I have ever experienced. I did not, and still do not, understand anything. It was impossible to read the Bible or pray. While I felt lost, I never felt completely lost. It is hard to explain. While I felt like a ship being thrown around in the sea, the anchor held. Even without a lot of Bible reading, I still knew the truth. While the facts seem cold at times, I still knew the facts. I knew that God is in control of all things. I knew that God still loves me. I knew that God has a purpose for this tragedy. I knew that God had not abandoned us. I knew these facts, but I did not “feel” them. My emotions were out of whack, but the facts kept me anchored. I did not “feel” the truth, but I always knew the truth. In troubled times, Harris says, “There’s nothing more important, more precious, more life securing than knowing and living by God’s truth.”

After living this nightmare, I understand how someone can leave their faith in God. A firm foundation is the key to surviving such a tragedy. Correct, deep doctrine and theology are the anchor. I have not left the faith because of my strong foundation. Everyone needs a strong foundation in doctrine and theology. Tough times are going to come. Without the anchor of doctrine and theology, a shipwreck is bound to occur. With a strong anchor of doctrine and theology, you can ride out the storm and still be afloat when the winds become calm, the seas become peaceful and the sun rises.

I am reminded of Psalm 1. The blessed man is like a tree planted by streams of water. The water allows the tree to have a deep and strong root system. When the difficult times come, the tree continues to stand because of the deep and strong root system. The “leaf does not wither”. What is the key to being such a strong tree? “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” This is doctrine. This is theology. Delight in the law of the Lord. Meditate on it. Study it. Know it. With it, your leaf will not wither.