On November 10, I will start a 3-sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed. Yep, theological preaching. Doctrinal preaching. That oh-so-scary word, “dogma”!
It seems to me that our evangelical churches have had a turbulent relationship with doctrine. Some doubled-down on a doctrinal correctness that became brittle, harsh, and divisive. In response, others became seeker-sensitive and preached about felt needs (“7 tips to a happy home”). So we shouldn’t be too surprised that in a recent survey32% of evangelicals agree that “religious belief is a matter of personal opinion [and] not about objective truth.”
Dorothy Sayers laid most of the blame for this on us preachers: “If the ‘average man’ is going to be interested in Christ at all, it is the dogma that will provide the interest. The trouble is that, in nine cases out of ten, he has never been offered the dogma. What he has been offered is a set of technical theological terms which nobody has taken the trouble to translate into language relevant to ordinary life.”
I will try to do that translation. As I do, here’s how I think Savior can always keep a right relationship to doctrine:
Focus on the essentials. The Apostles’ Creed (or its prior baptismal formulas) has been held by all Christians in all places at all times. As we focus here, we will not get sidetracked into arguments over secondary matters.
Keep belief where it belongs: in the community, in worship, from both the head and the heart. When we stand each week and say, “We believe,” this is not a merely intellectual statement, it is a love song. We are saying to God, “This is what you’ve revealed about yourself, Lord, and we accept, believe, and rejoice in it.”
Don’t apologize for orthodoxy. A church without that spinal column will never stand upright.
P.S. Want to read a bit more about the Apostle’s Creed? See our resource list.