Journal 1 Tim 6 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Teach and urge these things (writer prior in this Epistle).
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words (which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people…” I Tim 6:2b-5a
Observation: What do you do with disagreements? What do you do concerning positions of Doctrine that are ever-so-slightly out of synch? What do you do when those you might disagree with are your friends?
Analysis: For the most part, many Christians can recognize when somebody is off the wall nutzo. It is more difficult to talk about when today’s societal norm is that everyone has a “truth”: “That is your truth, this is my truth…we can celebrate that our individual “truths” can live in harmony even though they don’t live in unison…” When I was growing up, this was being recognized in the Church and Society as “relativism” … I think of it as “truth floating, no absolutes, no anchor to words or principles.”
Much of it has to do with what Paul started to write Timothy about in the beginning of this Letter:
“…that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather that the stewardship from God that is by faith…Certain persons by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion—desiring to be teachers of the law without understanding either 1) what they are saying or 2) the things about which they make confident assertions.” 1 Tim 1 3b-7
What, then, is Sound Doctrine?
There is a list of subjects that folks are generally aligned to. I think of them as expanding concentric circles; Inarguable doctrines at the center and, as the circles expand, other doctrines have room for opinions and disagreement. Sound doctrines are biblically/biblical logic based and historical (proven by the test of time).
Paul does give us one hint on what to look for: “…with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness…” Even this can be taken out of whack. I know of a pastor in Australia that was totally convinced that the only eternal and power laden words in the Bible are the Red Letters in the 4 gospels—the rest of the Bible was somehow second class and without primary worth. See 2 Tim 3:16 for the scriptural response, rebutting this position.
There may be many who would boil down “sound doctrine” to an inarguable minimum doctrinal statement: Confess sin, repent, and accept Jesus in your heart. That is all that is needed—except that it is not. As believers, as adopted children, as freed slaves from Sin now as elected slaves of Righteousness, we are to pursue knowing Him who chose us in mercy and grace, and search his Word line by line, precept by precept—expanding that minimum, center circle that we may build disciples unto Him and for the Glory of His Name.
Prayer: Lord God, I write this one in fear of You. There are so many beloved out there and they have sincerely held beliefs that I am not equipped to talk through. I am convinced of many things concerning your Word: I consider myself Reformed with a sincerely held Charismatic component. Not all believe this way. Until then, I pursue you with this head upon my shoulders, in Fear of You always.