“Doctrine” in the Greek is simply a word that means “teaching.” When the Bible speaks of sound doctrine, it’s talking about what the Bible teaches. When the Bible speaks of bad doctrine, it’s referring to doctrines that people invented.
We are supposed to maintain and hold to sound doctrine–what God said in His Word–and we are to avoid bad doctrine–stuff that people make up.
The only way you know you are hearing sound doctrine is if it lines up with Scripture.
Doctrine can be good or bad; it depends what it’s based on.
But even if a teacher has good doctrine, that doctrine can be taught in a bad way.
“Doctrine” is the root word of “indoctrinate.”
Indoctrinate has two meanings according to Websters:
to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments: to teach.
This seems like a fine thing. It simply means to teach something, usually foundational, basic stuff. No problem there that I can see. But here’s definition number 2:
to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle
OK, here’s where trouble comes!
To indoctrinate in a bad way means to get people fired up about your particular brand of teaching. It becomes less about what is taught and more about defending what was taught. It gets rabid, hostile, partisan, and fighty.
The attempt is no longer to teach, as much as it is to defeat the other side and win members to your party.
The quote I riffed on last week was this:
A rejection of penal substitutionary atonement is a rejection of the gospel. Either you’re saved through the work of Christ on the Cross, or you’re not saved at all.
To me, this sounds remarkably like indoctrination! People who think their doctrine is the Gospel, that their doctrine must be believed in order for you to be saved, are in the indoctrination camp.
Coming to Christ is secondary to adhering to their theories and their group. If you dare veer from their group you will feel the wrath of the group upon your tiny-brained little head!
What is more important to you: bringing people to Christ, or adding adherents to a doctrinal camp?
Preach the word. Do this in season and out. You will preach doctrine if you do this, as doctrine is in the Bible.
But if promoting a particular brand of doctrine overpowers the proclamation of God’s Word, then you are indoctrinating people.
Here are ten signs you’ve been indoctrinated: (perhaps a couple by themselves don’t mean anything, but if a number of them match, watch out!)
–You have no idea how to defend what you believe, so you tell people to read This Guy or talk to This Pastor, you rely upon something someone else said or wrote to defend your stance.
–You see your pet doctrine on every page of Scripture, to the extent you can no longer actually read the Bible without seeing your camp’s fight cry on every page, and that’s not because your doctrine is actually on every page either; you just can’t see the Scriptures anymore because your doctrinal branding has clouded your vision.
–Your doctrine can be immediately labeled because it sounds exactly like all those people in that group.
–You feel pressure to conform to everything everyone in your group is saying and doing. There is no room for questions, doubts, or any freedom to do anything outside of the approved norms.
–You quote people as much as or more than Scripture.
–You frequently, like every time you open your mouth, get corrected by the Gurus of your group until you only say the party line.
–Your faith is not leading to joy but to guilt-ridden pressure to keep up with The Group and make sure you measure up at all times, along with judgment on those beneath you.
–You begin every attempt to teach God’s Word with a detailed explanation of Your System that people “need to understand first.”
–You believe that only people who agree with your doctrine are saved.
–You honestly think that bringing people to Christ is exactly what bringing people to your doctrinal camp is.
Entrance into heaven is not granted because you agree with a group. You get in because you love, believe, and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
Don’t let your doctrine overpower the Word of God.