Monday, August 22, 2005

The Two Great Commandments and Doctrine

Tom Ehrich, an Episcopal priest, recently had an opinion piece in the online edition of the Indianapolis Star, in which he argues for the idea that we shouldn't be so concerned with ideas (doctrine). His article can be summed up in his line stating that "Unfortunately, right opinions add little to human welfare." He says nothing about the first commandment, the commandment to love God. Even as far as the second commandment is concerned, does he think that doctrines such as our accountability to God, future rewards and punishment, and the love and peace offered by the cross of Christ have little effect on how people live their lives and whether they get involved in something like drugs, alcohol, or poverty in the first place?

The sort of mindset displayed in Ehrich's article is commonplace today. It's one of the reasons why there's so much poverty, disease, ignorance, and other problems in the world today.

"Our concern with truth is an inevitable expression of our concern with God. If God exists, then he is the measure of all things, and what he thinks about all things is the measure of what we should think. Not to care about truth is not to care about God. To love God passionately is to love truth passionately. Being God-centered in life means being truth-driven in ministry. What is not true is not of God. What is false is anti-God. Indifference to the truth is indifference to the mind of God. Pretense is rebellion against reality, and what makes reality is God. Our concern with truth is simply an echo of our concern with God....There is no separating God and truth, as if one can put relationship against truth. 'God is' precedes 'God is love,' and 'God is' has content and meaning. God is one thing and not another thing. He has character. His nature has contours that define him. Concern with the true God, who is not created in our own image, is at the bottom of a truth-driven life....Loving truth is a mark of the God-entranced world-view. It is obedience to the first and great commandment [Matthew 22:37-38]." (John Piper, A Godward Life [Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 1997], pp. 106-108)

"The truth gives an eternal foundation on which to build one's life. This, in turn, gives us great security in our pilgrimage through life. Such security is the springboard to a lasting joy. I believe that in its attempt to win a hearing, the contemporary pulpit has been guilty of depriving our generation of lasting joy. They have had the responsibility of feeding a people craving for solid meat, but perhaps not realizing what they are craving for, they have kept feeding them dessert. It may have given the people instant satisfaction, but it has left them unhealthy and not really able to be salt and light for Christ in this world." (Ajith Fernando, The Supremacy of Christ [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1995], p. 112)