Categories: Theology

Some Comments on Sound Doctrine

John MacArthur, The Truth War [Thomas Nelson], p. 198:

“Sound doctrine divides, confronts, separates, judges, convicts, reproves, rebukes, exhorts, and refutes error. None of these things is very highly esteemed in postmodern thought. But the health of the church depends on our holding firmly to the truth, for where strong convictions are not tolerated, discernment cannot survive.”

J. Gresham Machen, June 17, 1932, in London, “Christian Scholarship and the Defense of the New Testament,” in, What is Christianity? Pp. 132-133:

“Men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end.

“Some years ago I was in a company of teachers of the Bible in the colleges and other educational institutions of America. One of the most imminent theological professors in the country made an address. In it he admitted that there are unfortunate controversies about doctrine in the Epistles of Paul; but, said he in effect, the real essence of Paul’s teaching is found in the hymn to Christian love in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians; and we can avoid controversy today, if we will only devote the chief attention to that inspiring hymn.

“In reply, I am bound to say that the example was singularly ill-chosen. That hymn to Christian love is in the midst of a great polemic passage; it would never have been written if Paul had been opposed to controversy with error in the Church. It was because his soul was stirred within him by a wrong use of the spiritual gifts that he was able to write that glorious hymn. So it is always in the Church. Every really great Christian utterance, it may almost be said, is born in controversy. It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of truth.”

David Kingdon, in A Marvelous Ministry [Soli Deo Gloria], p. 128:

[C. H.] “Spurgeon did not take the fashionable line of today—‘Don’t let us bother about the doctrine, let us get on with evangelism’—because he saw the practical consequences which would follow from departure from the doctrines of grace. He believed that there could be no hope for the sinner in the new theology, nor any holiness for the saint…. In 1881 he wrote: ‘Those who do away with Christian doctrine are, whether they are aware of it or not, the worst enemies of Christian living. The godliness of Puritanism will not long survive the sound doctrine of Puritanism. The coals of orthodoxy are necessary to the fire of piety’.

“Spurgeon was undoubtedly right in his insight into the religious situation of his time. He saw the marks of death where others could only see signs of health. He saw that churches would become worldly and powerless in proportion as they departed from the truth. He realised that a decline in vital godliness would be produced by a departure from those doctrines which are productive of godliness—the depravity of the sinner, the atoning, propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, the absolute necessity of regeneration and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.”

J. C. Ryle (source unknown):

“Controversy in religion is a hateful thing. It is hard enough to fight the devil, the world and the flesh, without private differences in our own camp. But there is one thing which is worse than controversy—and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation…. Three things there are which men never ought to trifle with: a little poison, a little false doctrine, and a little sin.”