New Directions for the Church

I speak of the evangelical Christian community as my spiritual home. That is where my roots are and most of my current relationships. That is also where I feel most at home doctrinally. However, in the impotent arena of Christian action, I feel as a stranger to my own heritage.

I believe that right action proceeds from right doctrine. This concept compels us to have an initial concern with right doctrine, because it is the source for ethics. But I have little sympathy for a person whose right doctrine does not produce right action. I do not believe right doctrine is a virtue in its own right. Most of Paul's letters in the New Testament begin with doctrinal clarification and end with ethical implementation. This is as it should be in our lives. "To believe" in the New Testament refers to a vital life force belief, not an intellectual elitism. Right doctrine for its own sake has always been an abomination to God. The Old Testament prophets did not primarily emphasize doctrinal reformation. They attacked the ethical outworkings of doctrine to show that the beliefs themselves were hollow. Faith without works has always been dead. What does it profit a man if he has faith to move mountains...? What reward is there for those who call "Lord, Lord..."? Better that the doors to the temple be shut than that the people of God profane [God's] house with superficial sacrifice and hollow worship. Satan himself believes.... and trembles.

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