This will be short. Whether it is sweet or not will certainly be in the eye of the beholder.
I do a daily “through the Bible” devotional for my church members to get them reading the Bible. This year, instead of going through the Bible in one year, I did a chronological trek through the New Testament which is going to take 7 months. Today’s reading was Titus 2 and 3. I noticed something interesting about Titus 2.
Paul opened the passage by admonishing Paul to “teach what accords with sound doctrine.”
He closes the chapter in verse 15 with this command:
Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
That is like red meat to the young theological warriors of our day, right? (And even to old theology fogeys like me!) Here is Paul commanding them to get their theology in order. Read more systematics. Browse Grudem again. Get into more arguments about the ordo salutis and the interaction of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. Let’s compare our systems on soteriology, eschatology, pneumatology, and all the other ologies. Theology matters. Doctrine matters. Wave the flag!
And it does. I believe that. A pastor should be theologically adept and doctrinally grounded.
But what I noticed is what Paul sandwiched between his admonition to teach sound doctrine and his reminder to let no one disregard his teachings. What theological topics did he raise in Titus 2?
- How older men should behave.
- How older women should behave and train younger women to love their husbands and be self-controlled and devoted to the ministry God has given them as wives and mothers (wow, Paul was NOT PC).
- Young men were exhorted to be self-controlled and of exemplary character.
- Bondservants were to submit to their masters and not steal or complain.
- The grace of God which is for all people calls us to renounce worldly passions and live upright lives as we wait for Christ to appear.
Honestly, if I preached a sermon like that, many of you would complain and say, “I wish there was more theology, more doctrine, more content!”
Does it seem that Paul’s idea of “sound doctrine” and our idea may be a little different? When we think of sound doctrine it is almost completely a mental exercise. Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Different eschatalogical systems. Hermeneutical principles. When Paul talked about “sound doctrine” it was about how the work of Jesus affected the way we lived our everyday lives. It was about marriages and behavior and self-control and purity and submission and all sorts of practical issues.
And when people preach on these things today, people accuse them of NOT PREACHING DOCTRINE.
Again, I still believe theological precision is important and has its place, our duty goes beyond that. You cannot reduce the role of pastor to Systematic Theologian in Chief. I’m not sure Paul would call that “sound doctrine.”