No Fluff Doctrine
Doctrine is the official teaching that a church has. The fluff church does not like to talk about doctrine because, as it is said, “doctrine divides.” This is actually quite true. Doctrine does divide. It is supposed to divide between what is false and what is true. God’s Word does not come to us to negotiate with us, but rather to lead us to what is true. Jesus Himself said that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword. And indeed, He was hated and rejected because He spoke what was true, and so it has been for His followers through the ages. Jesus explains why this is so. He says, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:19-20).
Who wants to be shown that he has been wrong about the things that he has believed? Yet, this is just what we need in order that we may be corrected.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy to instruct him how to guide the fledgling church at Ephesus according to the will of God, he instructed him to make sure that sound doctrine was maintained in all the congregations at Ephesus. He said, “hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me (2 Tim 1:13).” He told him to charge the pastors there to teach no other doctrine (1 Tim 1:3). He told him that the church is to be the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), the institution that upholds the truth in the world. Despite all this emphasis on doctrine, the New Testament shows that even while the Apostles were still alive, there were already false teachers in the church who departed from sound doctrine. Holding on to the truth that God has given has always been a problem in the church and it is a problem today. Even though the Lord calls us to speak the truth in love so that all may grow in the knowledge of the truth (Eph 4:13-16), the fluff church deliberately avoids proclaiming the truth except in the very broadest of terms so as not to offend anyone. When this pathway is followed, it is not long until such a church has nothing much to say, either to her own disciples, or to the unbelieving community.
But if we believe what the Bible says about us—that we are fallen and that our hearts are darkened by sin—then we need God’s Word to show us where we are wrong in our thinking and belief (Eph 4:17-25). Rather than downplaying those teachings that make us uncomfortable, we need to thank God for giving us the truth we so desperately need, and, out of gratitude, gently point others to the truth. That means that the no-fluff church will teach about things like the fall of the whole human race in Adam, the wrath of God against every person that can only be appeased through the bloody sacrifice of God’s Son, the everlasting judgement of God that will fall upon all those who do not repent of their sin and believe in Christ, the God-appointed role distinctions between men and women, the creation of the whole world in six days by the word of God, the sinfulness of sexual relations of any kind outside of God-instituted marriage, the fact that God has chosen those who will be saved from before the foundation of the world, and so on.
It also means that the no-fluff church will not forget the battles for truth that have been fought by those faithful pastors and teachers that have gone before us. She will study the creeds and confessions of the church through the ages (Click here for examples of Biblical Creeds), and carefully compare these to the Scriptures to see if they are true to Scripture. She will then use these “patterns of sound words (2 Tim 1:13)” to test the doctrine of those who preach today, and to test her own pastors. She will refuse to ordain any minister who does not hold to sound doctrine (Titus 1:7-11), and she will not allow those who have not been tested and approved to teach (1 Tim 5:22, 2 John 1:7-11).
Some people wonder (and rightly so) why there are so many different denominations with different practices and teachings. The reason for all this diversity is quite simple—they have not retained sound doctrine. Departure from the Apostle’s doctrine revealed to us in Scripture is the primary cause of diversity in faith and practice. It is the duty of every person to evaluate the doctrine that is being taught to see if it is in full agreement with Bible (Acts 17:10-12) and it is the duty of ministers to follow sound doctrine as taught by the Apostles (2 Tim 3:10). Such is the practice of the no fluff church.