Theology, Doctrine and Worship

“Theology and doctrine make life simpler. They protect us from reading verses out of context, restricting our diet to our favorite passages, and making decisions based on impulses. They put meat on concepts we tend to use mindlessly like glory, gospel, salvation and love. They help us understand what we’re actually doing every Sunday. What complicates life is not doctrine but ignorance of doctrine”   − Bob Kauflin −                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

           Theology is the study of God. Doctrine is everything that the Bible teaches on a particular topic.Last year,our church choir read Bob Kauflin’s book Worship Matters. In the third chapter titled My Mind: What Do I Believe, Kauflin discusses the importance of theology and doctrine as it relates to worship. In the chapter, he lists common misconceptions that keep us from pursuing God with our minds; the third misconception being that theology and doctrine cause problems and make life complicated. The quote above is part of Kauflin’s response to this misconception.

           You’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”. Well, as it relates to God, it can also be said that if you don’t know what you believe, you’ll believe anything. That was the Apostle Paul’s concern when he stressed to the church at Ephesus their need for knowledge of the Son of God so they wouldn’t be “carried away by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). It’s why he told Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).  

           Sound theology and doctrine is often neglected today, being replaced instead by a search for an “experience”. It shouldn’t be that way. We live in a world that would love to inform us on how we are to think about our God, a way unrecognizable from how the Scriptures tell of Him. The truth of who God is isn’t found in our experiences, opinions or emotions. It is found only in His Word. God’s Word is the single authority in establishing who He is and what He has graciously done for us in Christ. Simply put, God’s Word is where He shows us the depth of His love for us. An appreciation of theology and doctrine doesn’t complicate this truth; it strengthens our trust in it.

            As Bob Kauflin’s book title states, our worship does matter. If our experience in worship is to be that which is true, it must be informed by sound theology and doctrine. Our mind certainly plays a part in that, but never to the exclusion of our hearts. They belong together. Be committed to the deep study of God, both with your mind and your heart. When you are, it can only lead to praise, the kind of praise our King is worthy of.

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