This is probably a mistake as a blog post, but this question has been posed to me in a variety of different ways lately. Accordingly, I figured I would just throw it out there. I could just as easily ask whether it matters if you are Catholic, Baptist, Episcopalian, or Methodist. Essentially, what we are asking is whether doctrine (or teaching) of a particular denomination makes any difference. Aren’t we all Christians?
I must admit that I am sympathetic to the urge to gloss over our differences for the sake of unity. It certainly makes things easier. People don’t get offended. Tempers are held in check. Everything seems to be just hunky dory when we can get past our differences. OK, I am starting to sound like a certain Presidential candidate whose name rhymes with “Osama.”
Aren’t there some things that just cannot be “glossed over?”
But, it seems that there are little things that we disagree on that just don’t mean that much. As long as we get the big picture correct, those little things should not matter too much right?
Who gets to decide what the little things are? My list of little things may be (is probably) different from yours.
So, we need a standard to judge the things that matter from the things that don’t. Where would that standard come from?
Well, as luck would have it. We have one. We can find it in the Bible – God’s Word. If we let the Bible be our guide to separate the little stuff from the big stuff, then we take ourselves, our biases, our opinions, out of the dispute.
So, the question becomes whether your doctrine lines up with what the Bible teaches.
Now, to be sure, I am not the first person to think of this. Indeed, I am sure there are some non-Lutherans out there reading this blog saying, “Yes, my doctrine does line up with what the Bible teaches!”
All I can say, is good for you! Let’s keep talking. Let’s keep checking our doctrines and teachings with the Bible to make sure we are doing what God’s Word tells us we should be doing. God is glorified when we do that. I believe God will bless those earnest dialogues and searches through His scripture.
What we cannot do is sweep our disputes under the rug. We cannot simply decide that they don’t matter. Doing so does not glorify God. It opens the door for Satan to poison our faith with heresy and error.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, study up on your faith. Don’t be satisfied with the fact that you were simply born into this faith. Wrestle with it. Think about it. But, always, always, always, go to the Word. God’s Word is the final standard. God’s Word is all that matters.