Monday, September 04, 2006

Doctrine and Fallible Man

"The doctrines of the Bible, we believe, have never divided Christians; but human opinions of those doctrines without charity, have always done the mischief. Man, poor, ignorant man, would dictate to the consciences of his fellows, and if they do not receive his dogmas or opinions, they are branded with the odious names of heretic, infidel, etc., and their names and sentiments are trumpeted abroad, distorted, misrepresented and blackened--for what purpose? Professedly to promote the interests of religion--but intentionally, I fear, with many, just to excite the popular clamor and indignation against them, and to raise themselves on their ruins.--Poor, weak man wishes the world to believe him infallible. If not, why so tenacious of untenable principles? Why not abandon them when proved to have no foundation in truth? Why not relinquish them when refuted with the clearest evidence? It must be because he can not brook the idea of being accounted a fallible man." ~ Barton W. Stone, An Address to Churches (chapter 5: On Faith) 1859


von said...

Is he saying that we shouldn’t be worried about sound doctrine in the church? I wonder how he dealt with verses such as:

9Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 10For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:

3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:

12Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

Paul said...


Thanks for your comment. What Stone is talking about is that we have to seperate what we know to be true doctrine from our opinions about doctrine.

Here is an example of what I mean. To be a follower of Christ on must accept the doctrine of Hell, an eternity apart from God. Jesus taught Hell as being a reality and the New Testament writers wrote about the existence of Hell.

Hell is the doctrine, but men's opinions come into play when we talk about what hell is like. The reality is that we don't know, and so we are forced to form our own conclusion from what resources are available to us. My opinion is that of Conditional Immortality. While that is a minority view I think it holds to the Biblical model the best, but it does have its problems, just as the literal or metaphorical models have problems.

So what Stone is saying is that we should find unity in the essentials, in those doctrines that are clear in Scripture and have respect for others opinions in the areas that we are not so sure about.

von said...

we have to seperate what we know to be true doctrine from our opinions about doctrine.

I can see in Scripture where we are told to seperate true doctrine from false doctrine. And certainly Romans 14 teaches clearly that we are neither to judge or despise each other on disputable matters (I posted on Romans 14 if you are interested). I assume it is this latter which you call 'our opinions about doctrine'?

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