Morality or Doctrine?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by 12strings, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. 12strings

    12strings
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    Which comes first, the Chicken or the Egg...ie, Doctrine or morality?

    In another thread, Michael Wrenn said this: (not trying to attack, he may come and clarify his position...these are what I believe to be the relevant quotes for what I see as a potential danger):

    So it sounds like Doctrinal matters are mostly up for debate, but "traditional moral values" are not. I suppose the problem I see with this approach is that it seems to elevate "traditional ethics/morals" ABOVE doctrine. So the question is, it this really a good thing?

    I see it as dangerous, because I think our morality/ethics has to flow OUT OF a commitment to a set of truths (doctrine) that shape our morals...so traditionally, for example, slavery was commonly accepted...but a more correct understanding of God's truth led us to re-think that position.

    If Morals are what we defend above all else, to the neglect of doctrine, we will simply become moralists/legalists who have a set of things we believe to be right & wrong, and we try to be good people, but we are no longer concerned with the great truths of who God is and what Jesus has done on the cross. (not saying Michael Wrenn is here, but I think it's a danger).

    I think we have seen the end result of this in many mainline churches:
    1. Biblical doctrines are minimized, being a good, nice person is emphasized
    2. Biblical doctrines are gradually denied, replaced with a social gospel.
    3. Finally, even the traditional morals go away, because their foundation on God's truth is no there anymore...so the need for them diminishes.
     
  2. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    I don't think anyone could read our Principles and think that doctrinal matters were "up for debate." On that very page, I affirm what John Wesley said, "As for all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think." Also, we affirm the "Four Baptist Freedoms." We simply do what Baptists do: affirm soul liberty. We try to provide for a diversity of orthodox doctrine, maintain traditional ethics and morals, while affirming liberty of conscience -- freedom with fences, if you will. I think that's the best and safest approach.
     
  3. 12strings

    12strings
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    I think I understand what you mean, in that there ARE lots of doctrinal matters that are debatable within orthadox Christianity. I have heard it refered to as Theological triage:
    Level 1: Define whether one is a Christian: Jesus' Diety, death on the cross for sins, resurection...
    Level 2: Christians can disagree, but will probably separate denominations/churches: Modes of baptism, church polity...
    Level 3: Christians can disagree within the same church/denomination: views of the end times, etc...
    (no there are many issues i have not included on any list that certain people might disagree about which level they should be at...and I myself could be happy in a church that practiced believer's baptism, but accepted infant baptism for membership...I'm not sure on that one.)

    I suppose I was led the direction I was led by your comment:

    I think if I approached a church, considering membership, and read a line like that at the top of their statement of beliefs...I would probably be a bit concerned.

    Would you say that the "Traditional moral values" that you seek to defend are based on the "essential" truths of Christianity...those doctrinal matters that are NOT open to debate?
     
  4. OldRegular

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    Moral and ethical teaching comes from the same source as Doctrine; that is the Bible!
     
  5. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    Yes. I do believe that doctrine and morality are related. I certainly don't believe they are disconnected.
     
  6. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    Of course that is true.
     
  7. MorseOp

    MorseOp
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    The Godhead is the epitome of morality. In the Godhead we find not only moral perfection but the origination of morality. Mankind was created in the moral likeness of God. The Bible is clear on certain moral behaviors (I.e. the 10 commandments). Where it is not clear it lays down principles. Since doctrine is a teaching it is reasonable to conclude that morality preceeded doctrine.
     

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