Doctrine. The word is a “four-letter word”, that happens to require eight letters, making it doubly profane to some Christians. Just the sound of the word “doctrine” comes off hard, firm, and rigid. Doctrine appears to be the opposite of an organic and life-giving view of the Bible. Doctrine, has gotten an undeserved bad name.
In some circles doctrine has received a reputation opposite of that which the Bible itself gives to doctrine. The Bible views solid, sound doctrine as a necessity for spiritual growth and fruit-bearing. Sound doctrine is the good soil, free of weeds and rocks that allows a Christian to grow into the image of Christ, rather than into a quasi-Christ, quasi-the-world’s-popular-opinion looking creature. The former bears fruit to the glory of God, the latter will tend to be bear fruit that looks like itself to the glory of itself.
In the book Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry, Michael Lawrence quotes Ligon Duncan on six things for which sound doctrine is essential:
1) John 17:13-17 says that doctrine is for joy and growth.
2) Matthew 28:18-20 says that we make disciples (in part) by teaching truth.
3) 1 Timothy 1:3-5 says that bad doctrine destroys but good doctrine produces love.
4) 1 Timothy 1:8-11 says that doctrine cannot be separated from ethics.
5) 1 Timothy 6:2-4 says that doctrine promotes godliness.
6) Titus 1:1 says doctrine is vital for godliness. (p. 93)
Lawrence aptly observes that the six items originate from Jesus’ prayers and directives and Paul’s pastoral instructions. “So, if both Paul and Jesus said we should teach doctrine, regardless of whether we like it or what we think our postmodern age will think, it seems to me we should probably teach doctrine. But I’m also blown away by what Paul and Jesus say doctrine is for, as Duncan observes. Joy. Growth. Godliness. Discipleship. Love. Life” (p. 93).
Given the fruit that is produced from the ground of sound doctrine, it is more than reasonable for a Christian to learn, affirm, teach, and live sound biblical doctrine.