Monday, October 15, 2012

U - Unite (Part 1), Dogma, Doctrine, Belief

The next function necessary for Kingdom living is fellowship. In the model of JOURNEY, this represents the U - unity. As disciples (obedient - O), we are to be united in Christ and united for Christ. Many believers will agree with this statement, but how we live it out is another matter. Of course, not everyone has the same understanding of biblical teachings. This goes back to the idea of dogma, doctrine, and belief.

Very briefly, dogma represents the essentials of understanding, in this case, for Christianity. Jesus being born of a virgin, dying physically, and being physically raised from the dead are a few essentials of what it means to be a Christian. Apart from these, and others one cannot truly claim to be Christian.

Doctrine, on the other hand, represents an understanding of Scripture that separates many believers into certain classifications that are deemed very important by most (e.g.  denominations), yet do not diminish the authenticity of someone's faith in, and through, Christ. Examples might include baptism, Spiritual gifts, etc.

Belief, is also important, just not as important, from a Kingdom perspective. While dogma separates Christian thought from non-Christian thought, and doctrine often separates believers by denomination, varying beliefs are commonly held by many in a single congregation, let alone denomination. Understanding the event, or the timing of, the rapture and Second Coming would be an example of this definition of belief.

Beliefs are important, and the idea that we use the word "believe" to express our thoughts on dogmatic issues, doctrinal issues, and issues of understanding of select topics (e.g. Second Coming) confuse the issues. But it should not keep us from being united in the realm of the Kingdom. Christians are not (should not be) enemies of other Christians. Unfortunately, this happens all too often.

We must take care to be united in our faith (dogma), while reflecting on our differences. We may not all agree on this side of eternity. But I would guess on the other side, we will find out some things we thought were especially important, were not very important at all in God's eyes.

Remember, United, we DO stand. Divided, we will fall.

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