Today, we read that many Protestants are converting to Catholic or Eastern Orthodox in droves and the reason that they give is that they desire something concrete. People are leaving the light weighted mega churches who teach only a good life and seeking something that is rooted to history. Protestants have focused on the manner of life, shouting from the rooftops throughout history “Faith Alone!” or as John Calvin said, “Sola Fide!” Their historical insistence that all one has to do is to in some way mention the name of the Lord and they are saved has eroded their denominational boundaries and is drawing everyone together into one fold, with no difference or distinction any more. How many times have we heard the sinner, justifying himself, say that it doesn’t matter what we believe, if we live a good life, we are all going to the same place? Although this is a recent invention, the seeds to this were sown centuries ago when people freely left the Doctrine of the Church and created their own doctrine.
We can find people that live lives of service, devoted to their fellow man in all religions. We can find good moral people that don’t even believe in God. They might have throngs of people mourning their death, but unless they lead a life in subjection to the doctrine of the Word of God, it was for nothing. If living a devout life was all it took, then Cornelius would have not needed Peter.
Doctrine – διδασκαλία (didaskalia)
1) teaching, instruction
a) that which is taught, doctrine
b) teachings, precepts
The etymology of the word ‘doctrine’ has it first being used to describe generic teaching about a subject, but by the time Paul wrote to Timothy, it came to mean ‘instruction on how to do something’. There is a difference that is rarely seen in the modern era. When we teach something, we do so in a very general format covering only the basics, but when we instruct, we get into the precepts and learn the minute details of how to do something. When Paul used Doctrine, he did not mean the everyday conversation about Christ, in that when a Saint speaks to a sinner, but the instructions of the Church.
In 1st Timothy 3:15-16, we read ‘But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.’
In this we come to understand that the Church itself is the column and stay of the Truth. The ‘Stay’ or keep of an ancient Castle was the place where the defense was kept, where the most prized possessions were, in a time of war, moved to protect them. Here we see Paul telling Timothy that the Church is the very place where the Truth is kept from invaders and those that would seek to destroy it.
In Acts 2:42, Luke tells us, ‘And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.’
These very first converts, having no Tradition or great theologians to follow relied only on the very thing that the Apostles’ taught. Steadfast, as we all know, means to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing and to continue all the time in a place. How could a steadfast commitment to the Doctrine that the Apostle’s taught be seen as a good thing if the Doctrine was meant to change?
The young man Timothy was told by Paul in 1st Timothy 4:6, “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.” Paul did not instruct Timothy to seek something new, or to seek a change, even slight, in the Doctrine of the Church, but to constantly bring the people back to it. In other words, bring the people back to the doctrine, don’t bring the doctrine up to the people.
In Paul’s second letter to the young minister, he encourages Timothy to “(2Ti 4:2-5) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For 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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. ”
Throughout the history of the persecutions of the primitive Church, we read that those Saints where not killed for the way of life, but for their doctrine. We all know of Saul of Tarsus persecuted the Church not for the life that the Saints lived, but for the name and doctrine that they proclaimed. In Acts 5:28 We read of a trial before the Sanhedrin, where the Jewish leaders asked Peter and John, saying, ”Did not we straightly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” The Jewish leaders cared very little for the manner of life of the Church, but for their doctrine!
Around 113, the Roman ruler of Palestine wrote the emperor saying that it was not for their manner of life that he was persecuting them, but for their insistence that Christ was God and in the Roman mind, that made them atheists. During later controversies with the Trinitarians, the discussion never brought it self to the manner of life of those people that, like us, insisted that Christ was God, but always focused on their doctrine.
2Jn 1:9-10 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
The aged Apostle warns us that we have to have the doctrine of Christ or we have not God. If we do not stay in the Doctrine we loose God.
Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:26-29