Often these days, in this post-modern, politically correct, anything goes mish-mash culture . . . you will hear even a so-called "Christian" chidingly assert "doctrine divides" . . . if you contend for certain Biblical teachings--the "hard" ones.
And I am inclined to reply, "yes, doctrine divides. . . . It divides the goats from the sheep; the lambs from the wolves in lambs clothing." Nevermind the contradiction in someone who argues that "doctrine divides; we need unity" . . . as their assertion that we "shouldn't argue about doctrine" IS a type of doctrine itself.
Above all, I understand that it is repentance and being born again into a real, trusting relationship with the Lord that is what counts . . . and that there are plenty of scholars and experts and dogmatics who know scripture backwards and forwards . . . who are nevertheless not really saved . . . but I find that what separates Biblical Christianity from all the other "isms", philosophies, cults, beliefs etc., IS, in fact . . . doctrine.
Is it really just as simple as saying, "I believe in Jesus, so I am saved"? . . . or does it matter if you believe in the correct Jesus? Mormons have a different Jesus, for instance. And a whole set of doctrines that differ radically from Biblical Christianity . . . yet they consider themselves "Christian".
Same with Jehovah's Witnesses . . . the Moonies . . . Roman Catholics . . . 7th Day Adventists. . . .
They all claim to believe in and follow Jesus; but what differentiates them from the born again, BIBLE believing Christian? Doctrine. Correct, TRUE doctrine.
Doctrine does divide . . . and it should, I say! In each of the above examples . . . what you have, and what you always have when you start getting a cult . . . is that some charismatic leader and then his/her subsequent institution . . . adds, subtracts or contorts what the Word of God says. And I dare say. . . that in every case . . . what is happening is that the cult leader or institution . . . teaches something that ELEVATES the human in comparison to God. The fallen, carnal nature is constantly seeking for ways to justify, magnify, elevate itself in relation to the Creator.
More than ever, I am realizing just how incredibly magnificent, huge, ominous, awesome, terrible, holy, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent . . . GOD is! AND how small, pathetic, wicked, devious, conniving, guilty, wretched we are . . . in comparison. I think we have such a limited, myopic, self-centered view of Reality, of God . . . compared to His incomprehensible, astounding reality . . . that the closest we ever get to even approaching it . . . is when we fall flat on our faces, wanting to hide, ashamed, terrified, groveling, all bold claims and yapping violently shut in the mere effulgent edges of His holy light. . . .
In fact, I am becoming convinced that we are nothing . . . but witnesses . . . to all He is and does. I think our notions of having "free will" and "autonomy" . . . are desperately childish, foolishly vain, wickedly imaginative. Yes, we live . . . move . . . and have being . . . BUT only "IN HIM we live, move and have our being!" -Acts 17:28
Why is this so hard to accept? Why do people fight it, desperately wanting to assert some separate authenticity--some contending will apart from God? Why do we feel entitled, owed, resentful, rebellious, assertive?
Because our hearts are "desperately wicked." And "NO ONE does good--no not one"!
I am more convinced than ever . . . as a matter of doctrine . . . that we have nothing, do nothing, are nothing, will be nothing APART from . . . and EXCEPT FOR . . . the complete and utter grace of God! He owes us nothing. All is a gift. . . .
So, I say, doctrine matters . . . and the Truth sets you free. . . . I am glad to be "set apart" . . . made holy . . . in the Truth . . . divided OUT of the kingdom of lies and blasphemies, praise God!