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Getting Serious with the Faith - Doctrine and Practice

One thing that confuses people regarding my approach is the fact that I seem to be in such league with Calvinist and Reformed types, yet I also call them death at the same time. This is because doctrinally I'm on the same page with any Christian who recognizes and accepts sound biblical doctrine, which is Calvinism, or Reformed Theology. Doctrine is important. It's the necessary foundation. I defend biblical doctrine against the forces of confusion and antichrist just as sound Calvinist apologists do. The folks who can't 'see' biblical doctrine, or who can see it but refuse to accept it (or any number of mixture of those two things) are the enemy of the Kingdom of God. They are teachers and pushers of vanity and death. So I'm on the same page with anyone who can see and who accepts and who defends sound biblical doctrine, which is Calvinism.

Yet doctrine is not all of the Faith.

Practice is also part of the Faith. Doctrine has to do with knowledge, practice has to do with being.

You can be intellectually on-the-mark regarding biblical doctrine without practicing the Faith at the practical level, though you won't remain on-the-mark forever, because without practicing the Faith at the practical level you will get warped in your doctrinal beliefs and understanding eventually. This is because you keep laying the foundation, over and over. You refuse to start to build the house. No matter how sound the foundation you first put down is if you keep laying the foundation over and over because you refuse to build the actual house your foundation will not remain sound. It may have been sound at first, or in your past, but you relaid that foundation and it accumulates elements that are not as sound as before. Now you lay that foundation once again, and again, and the soundness is further warped and diluted and weakened.

Doctrine without practice is death. Practice without sound doctrine is death. You need both. And when you come to be able to 'see' and accept on-the-mark, real, hard-truth biblical doctrine you have to realize that the match for that on the practice side is nothing less than the practical level doing of the Faith. Not ritual. Not 'family time at the church'. Not smug, self-satisfied moralizing within a snug community of similar smug, self-satisfied moralisers.

The foundation of sound biblical doctrine gives you discernment and a standard to navigate your way on the open sea of the practcial level doing of the faith. You'll now be able to discern the wheat that exists amid the chaff in all influences available -- made available by God's common grace and General Revelation and the guidance of the Holy Spirit Himself. You won't have to avoid anything that has degrees of chaff in it in fear that you'll be contaminated by the chaff. You'll no longer avoid the vein of gold because you fear the darkness and dirt of the mine. You'll know longer hug the shore because you fear the uncertainty of the open sea.

My advice - the advice of one who is very thoroughly on the Way - for those who are able to see and to accept sound biblical doctrine (five solas, doctrines of grace, covenant of redemption, Calvinism, Reformed Theology) is to now realize you have the foundation and to now pursue wisdom in all influences available to man in all of God's Creation. If you still fear 'getting fooled' or being tempted to become 'a Hindu prophetess of the New Age of Kabala' then you simply don't have the foundation. Part of having the foundation is having been regenerated by the Word and the Spirit. Without the Spirit of Truth in you you can't even recognize the Truth. But if you can recognize sound biblical doctrine, and you can accept it on its terms, then you have the Spirit of Truth in you (and you know who you are - or you should - and you can see who isn't there currently - or you should be able to).

When you have the foundation you fear only God. It's very difficult to 'see' the fear of man in yourself, especially when you are very much in the midst of the world (which is sex and family ties and the everyday demands of making money to survive). They tend to blanket you with their influence and control you, and you find yourself dead asleep in their domain fearing man in the extreme and not even having a working definition of what it means to fear God only.

God has a cure for this, if you just follow it: read the Bible complete, in a humble, dedicated way. Actually read it complete. Once, three times, seven times. You have to make it a concrete goal or you drift in desultory non-activity regarding it. All the ways the simple act and effort to read the Bible complete and humbly takes care of the above problem you currently find yourself in can't be enumerated. Just do it. It's a simple act. A simple, doable goal. You fear it because of the very fact that it does have power to effect you and separate you from the world. You need this. Don't justify not doing it because of your family or your job or your intimate relationship(s). (And I'm talking about reading the Word of God complete and not about 'reading your Bible' in the usual way Christians do. I mean approaching it as something that is above you. Not as something you are weighing and measuring and putting into its place, the way you read when you are finding doctrinal documentation or fishing around for something 'inspirational', and so forth. I mean, humble, dedicated, complete readings as if you are engaging the Word of God for the first time. And complete readings. It makes all the difference. Complete readings require a level of time and effort and dedication that are absolutely needed.)

The fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom. Once you are able to pursue Wisdom you then have to actually pursue Her. Pursue Her in higher influences and in activities that are currently beyond you. Mostly though pursue Her by finding the line of ideas that lead more and more to actual practical level doing. You find this in any and all influences. Even - and usually most especially - the 'scary' influences. You are on the open sea so everything will be 'scary' anyway. 'Scary' means what is residing behind things that you are supposed to recoil from. This tests your independence from man-fearing and tempers your fear of God. Remember, you have the foundation of the Word of God, and of regeneration. You can navigate unknown waters and not crash on the rocks. You can hear the music of the Sirens and not be a victim of the Sirens. (Knowing the higher visual language of the Homeric epics is an example of knowing a higher influence; it is a powerful language to have in you. It is the kind of influence that enables you to eventually find and 'see' the practical level knowledge.)

And amid this effort with higher and new influences you find the practical level of the Faith. It takes you right back to the teaching of the Word of God, yet you're able to now see the practical level in that teaching. It exists. It's there. You have to stop hugging the shore and being fearful of man to find it though.

Practically speaking I'm talking about getting out there in the world of influences (which is mostly contained in the written word at this point, in our time, but finding the influence will involve more than book-reading, but you just have to start) and find the practical level ideas, practices, and goals. Search everything. Find the wheat amidst the chaff of any and every influence.

The choice is: are you serious about the Faith or are you not? Doctrinally you can see people who aren't serious about the Faith. Now, regarding practice, make yourself one who is serious about the Faith. Seriousness regarding doctrine and seriousness regarding practice is what makes a real Christian who is on the Way. Find what the practical level of the Faith is. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. You have to leave the shore and fear only God for that to happen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What frustrates people about you is that you write the same ten sentences over and over, and seem to not be aware of it.

December 3, 2005 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

And what "people" are they, Jim Scott?

People quit talking about Christ or the Gospel oftentimes because they get tired of sounding like a Johnny-One-Note. If you stop talking because you are afraid you lack the effective variety to entrance or seduce all your readers or hearers, you are likely to lose the element of Testimony.

A Christian is called first of all to be a Witness. And a witness to truths that aren't all that complicated: little children can understand them. If one can manage to keep that Witness without watering it down, then one can add to it. But getting lost in details or losing the element of simple Testimony is 1000 times more likely to be the problem with most people nowadays.

December 4, 2005 at 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>God has a cure for this, if you just follow it: read the Bible complete, in a humble, dedicated way. Actually read it complete. Once, three times, seven times.

Does this qualify as laying the foundation over and over? You say it every post.

December 5, 2005 at 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

.em sniatsus ssendam ruoY .ffeJ si tc

December 5, 2005 at 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what's wrong with me, saying stuff like that. I'm sorry.

December 6, 2005 at 4:05 AM  

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