...and to the teaching (1 Timothy 4:16)

Last Thursday was a pretty good day in my life, all in all.

And I was bothered.

First, the NOOMA guy wrote another book and people are all hot and bothered, much to the joy of his publisher. If you want to know more, don't look at this blog. Do a quick search and you'll find plenty. Like this. And if you know Rob Bell's writing, you'll find this particularly amusing (and charitably accurate).

Second, at a meeting of a group I really enjoy, I had to listen to well-meaning presenters scoff at any degree of precision in teaching- as if the more generic the teaching the more holy the setting. God told them that was the case, though, so we were all okay with it. Unfortunately, the prevailing sentiment in the room went along with the ambiguity.

Confession #1) We can all be a bit to persnickety (yes, it's a word) about our distinctives- particularly with our denominational affiliation.

Confession #2) I have been and can be a bit to uptight about some of these. Guilty as charged.

Confession #3) But God does say "Pay close attention to yourself and to the teaching" (1 Timothy 4:16). That's THE teaching. The definite article, designating a specific teaching.

Yes, friends, we must be charitable. But we must teach the truth. And for those of you who think "doctrine" is a dirty word, you must understand that all it means is "teaching." If you have a "doctrine-free church," as someone once boasted to me, well...

There are certain truths that are essential for salvation. Denying these leads to hell. God's holiness. The incarnation of God in Christ. The virgin birth. Christ's resurrection. Man's entire sinfulness. Salvation by grace through faith in God's work on the cross. It doesn't matter how nice you are- or amiguous or confused. Uncertainty is not humility; Conviction is not pride.

So be charitable. But pay close attention to yourself, and to the teaching.

And go serve your King,

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