On Doctrine

Understanding the nuts and bolts of Christian longevity

In order to be effective, a doctrine must not be understood, but has rather to be believed in. A doctrine that is understood is shorn of its strength“—Eric Hoffer

A doctrine to be effective must be viewed from the heart, not from the brain, to maintain staying power.

“The devout are always urged to seek truth with their hearts and not their minds

Rudolph Hess, when swearing in the entire Nazi party in 1934, exhorted the hearers: “Do not seek Adolf Hitler with your brains—all of you will find him with the strength of your hearts”.

It is obvious today more than ever that the true believer is just that—a believer that doesn’t understand the doctrine. Everyone else is doing it wrong sounds familiar, and many Christians are now despising Christianity—the outcome of the doctrine.

When we fully understand the doctrine (like we do the nazi party) we can no longer believe in it based on its historical and current condition—we capitulate to self doubt, ride it out, or leave.

Atheism is proof that the doctrine can eventually be understood”. That is evidenced in the current exodus.

Spending a lifetime ironing the contradiction of abrahamic religion is imperative from the beginning that conundrums existed to sustain the longevity of the movement.

If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague. If neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable”Eric Hoffer

To secure a lasting movement, Christianity incorporated all three—and the proof is in its longevity.

It’s hard to imagine that this trifecta was accidental, since every single point of doctrine is Alpha and Omega of contradiction.

License plate Jesus home near me

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

53 thoughts on “On Doctrine”

  1. Jim, I wouldn’t say so much that I was coached. But, of course, my views are shaped in part by my studies as well as personal reflection. When I read Scripture relating to the eschaton, “Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord, ” I still think in terms of the incarnation.

    God loved us so much that He fully entered into human life and suffering that we might be healed and share in His life. So our worship is a natural outpouring, a response to that. If anything it all speaks to me of the possibility of universal redemption/salvation, so to speak.

    But, on a deeper level, it seems to me that the worship of God is more for our benefit, not God’s as if He needs our worship.

    Maybe we are just moving within a different paradigm, Jim, and can only agree to disagree for now.

    Pax.

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    1. Part of being guided is accepting it all before any contradictions are raised or presented. First you agree to believe, and then comes the test to the story bit by bit. Voilet!

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  2. Sirius, I’m open to persuading these dear Christian brothers and sisters of the error of their ways. I don’t assume they are all hate-filled bigots though. People can be just mistaken or misguided. 🙂 Of course, they probably feel the same way about me.

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  3. My feelings are mixed in this. My previous denomination, the Episcopal church actually affirmed the importance of human reason as part of the foundation of the doctrine of the church. I definitely don’t feel people should ever be expected to check their minds at the church door and be told something like just believe from the heart no matter what your rational mind and good sense is saying.

    But, that being said, I feel like there’s a huge caveat. Our minds and experience are finite. Are we going to have complete understanding and knowledge about anything? And, there’s always going to be a different perspective out there.

    I think it’s good to also cultivate a certain degree of humility and openness, too. To give an example, an acquaintance of mine is a Mennonite Christian theologian. He had the opportunity awhile back to actually study with a Native American shaman. Through this, he became convinced that plants and animals have auras that can be detected and that people may possess latent psychic abilities that can be developed. Well, this doesn’t sound exactly rational, and it’s outside of my personal experience and study.

    But, because I know that my knowledge and understanding is finite, I wouldn’t want to tell this extremely learned and intelligent Christian brother that he is a fool, and simply dismiss his study and experience out of hand.

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    1. Are you being dismissive of your Mennonite Christian friend by admitting that you are not convinced? That whatever reasons this friend has, they do not sway you to believe in the auras of plants and animals?

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      1. No, Sirius, I don’t think that would be dismissive. I don’t think that all non theists are dismissive of Christian believers either. I get it that good people can feel unpersuaded or have a different perspective. What I think would be dismissive or disrespectful is for non theists to assume that everyone who is a Christian believer regardless of their thinking in coming to faith is either delusional or a fool.

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        1. Is it wrong to think your Mennonite Christian friend holds mistaken beliefs? What if your friend asks you to illustrate why you do not agree regarding auras and latent psychic abilities? What if your friend starts convincing others that these auras exist or that they can develop psychic abilities?

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          1. Hi, Sirius, I’ll be honest. I don’t know if these beliefs are mistaken. It’s something that at this point I have not studied or considered in detail. I think it’s wrong to try to force ourselves on anyone, or compel them into a discussion. But, if people are interested and open to consider and to discuss spiritual and philosophical issues, I don’t see a problem with it as long as everyone is respectful.

            But, hey, my undergraduate major was cultural anthropology focused in comparative religion. I studied with people with views across the spectrum. To me, it’s all interesting and fascinating.

            My friend is a committed Christian believer, a faithful follower of Jesus, but He is extremely open minded to other beliefs and practices in this way. Heck, he had the youth group at the time out attempting to detect plant auras and tracking animals. 🙂

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            1. Are you equally as open to other subsets of Christian faith? What about Christians who preach that homosexuality is a sin? Or Christians that preach women shouldn’t work because it interferes with their divinely ordained gender roles?

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    2. Ultimately though you have to check your mind at a door at some point. Faith—consent without evidence to that which is opposed by reason. Faith and reason cannot intimate without giving away your mind to answers that are simply spoon fed guesses.

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      1. It’s true that we can’t shove God into a test tube and prove His existence through use of the scientific method. But, on the other hand, based on what I can observe around me and even knowledge relating to say “the fine-tuning argument” reason says to me that it is extremely unlikely there is not a creator. I think our culture is also heavily impacted by naturalism which conditions are thinking as well. Ultimately Christian faith is also a choice, but I would not see it like a blind existential leap into the dark or like forcing the mind to accept something that you know isn’t true.

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        1. When you come to that conclusion that there must be a creator, you then make an unwarranted jump; that the marvelous designing power that produces all this is the biblical god. Now conveniently prepackaged by the men of words ready for you to accept. That god who is fashioned in the graven image of the paternal, authoritarian tyrant of the ancient near east. Who’s ideas were not won on there own merit, but by force from the beginning and then around the world. It puzzles me how one as yourself could align with that without some 4-14 anchoring bias. Curious
          http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/ages.htm

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          1. Hi, Jim, finally have a chance to respond. I think in this way in part because I don’t view God as the authoritarian tyrant of the ancient near east.

            Most Christian people that come from the mainstream of the church don’t take ahold of Scripture in the same way as fundamentalist Christians. The lens through which I would view and interpret the meaning of Scripture and the character of God is centered in the incarnation of Christ.

            To me, the Bible is important and contains and reflects the word of God, but it is like a cracked jar through which the light of God also shines through. Jesus Christ is the word of God.

            It seems to me that the ancient Hebrews understanding of God was progressive over time, and also expressed in the context of the culture of the ancient near East. But, I don’t think all these anthropomorphic expressions are literally true although truth can be expressed through them. There is an unfolding of insight.

            To give one brief example, as the ancient Israelites grew to understand the exclusive nature of the Lordship of God, they refrained from worshipping the deities of the Caananite religion. I think this, unfortunately, led to force then against the ancient Caananites.

            But, by the time of the Babylonian exile this primitive society grew to a deeper understanding and began to speak of the Servant who would come, that would not break even a bruised reed or quench a burning wick.

            In other words, there is an unfolding of insight, culminating in Christ who Christians believe represents the exact image and character of God.

            There have been many theological books written by more progressive theologians exploring this, showing things, for instance, such as the tension between the priestly writings, and the later prophets.

            Of course, this all can be a huge problem for some Christian believers who may base their entire faith on a certain view of the inerrancy of the Bible.

            I certainly think there have been many abuses committed by the institutional church. This is sad and tragic to me. No excuses, but I think these abuses occurred in spite of the teaching of Jesus and not because of them. They reflect human nature which is fallen, individually and corporately as well.

            In my own life, I want to speak out against abuse, but am even more concerned about my own life. Am I being faithful to follow Christ apart from what anyone else is doing or not doing?

            So, there you have it, Jim, in a brief nutshell. 🙂

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            1. I don’t view God as the authoritarian tyrant of the ancient near east”. You could not possibly have gotten that by reading the Bible without some coaching.
              The end of the books are pretty telling of his true character if he existed. “Every knee shall now and every tongue confess allegiance to god”—or else! Who wants that as their defining epitaph besides a tyrant?

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        2. Becky, as a follow up to this comment, this is not an existential jump, but a methodical conditioning, step by step waving off of every point of the doctrine. There is not one point of that is immune. There is only one possibility of this existence, and it must be a contradictory free path of reason to a single point. Christianity has exempted themselves with force and now boasts by numbers it does not need reason, as you are carefully guided to dismiss objections until the package is nicely wrapped into believing.

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    3. Did this Mennonite become convinced because the shaman threatened him or paid him off? Was he promised great rewards in the future for just taking all claims by the shaman on faith? Or was it because of some experience or feat? Christians almost always dismiss any proof that some non-Christian could give as devilry, so I am surprised that a Mennonite Anabaptist would have given a native American the time of day.

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      1. K, not at all. It is not unusual for theologically progressive or even moderate Christian people to be open in this way to inter faith dialogue. And, why not? All truth is God’s truth.

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        1. Looks like the shaman did not use any of the typical Christian tactics on the Christian, and yet still got through to him somewhat. I guess there is hope.

          The ones who promoted for centuries the idea that plants and animals are soulless mechanisms were Christians. Then the materialist atheists came along and finished the job by including humans too. We differ little from any other living thing, looking at the big picture. The ones who said that there is no divinity in the world were Christians, then the materialists came along and dismissed the Christian metaphysical dogmas too. Christians said that history is a straight line of progress leading toward a resurrection and some ideal end state in this world. Secular political ideologies came along that agreed with that, but removed the Christian dogmas of apocalypse and resurrection. Christians(most of the time) decried dreams, visions, out of body experiences, and even NDEs for centuries, because those things may contradict dogmas. Atheist materialists came along and agreed, and included all the Christian claims to knowledge “prophecies” too. Arguably, another thing that has happened is that materialists took the dogmatic mindset of Christianity and applied it against that religion. At every step, Christian thinking was a precursor to the materialistic atheism that is now devouring Christianity. What amazes me is that few if any on either of those sides see that. Instead Christians tend to blame atheists for everything.

          Call me crazy, but none of what you posted about the Christian learning some shamanism seems irrational to me. There is no contradiction with anything I have experienced or basic logic. Some form or other of that belief has been common across the world. But it was not part of some doctrinal system that threatened people or badgered them into believing it. No threats are made for those who don’t believe that animals and plants have auras that can be sensed. There must be some other reason why anyone would believe this. It may or may not be factually true, but there is no inherent problem with the idea. It is not like having to believe that 3=1 or that omnibenevolence means creating beings to torture them based on an arbitrary and preordained decision. It is not like believing that unchanging means changeable.

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          1. K, I don’t see any problem with this either as a Christian believer one way or the other.

            As a matter of fact, now that we are discussing this again together, I’ve decided to explore it all more deeply. After all, I certainly have plenty of time on my hands with everything being wisely locked down. I’ve already started reading more about Native Americans in general after talking with Jim and Militant. I’m sure we will talk again.

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    1. Haha. There is quite a bit of this going on. My last post was another one I drive by frequently. If this was CS it would likely be a mobile home. I should’ve got a snow-free picture to show the beautiful junk-filled yard. I think all those plates came from cars they own. God is that good.

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          1. Interesting. While stopped off to replenish groceries on a road trip through Spokane in the ’90s this panhandler came up and asked us what we were doing in “the Spook” — which seemed like a rather odd city nickname at the time, but now it all comes together.

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            1. Unfortunately the 4th district is large enough to suck me in as well. It goes all the way to Canada, so I’m not far from some middle ground. But back in the day a lot of people moved up this way to hide from the government and there’s still some pretty thick relics from worser times.

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  4. And just where do you find licence plates … ordinarily? In the front and rear extremes of vehicles … the Alpha and Omega of the vehicle just as Jesus is the Alpha and Omega of our existence. I rest my case.

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    1. Jajaja. Maybe this is just the Jesús residence, Ruis. Any argument can be extended… you just have to speak their language—in Greek

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    1. Yes, it appears the wealthy just want to sin and not feel bad about it too? Ha
      I would be interested in having an educated believer dissect this post without making faith statements, but countering concepts for better concepts.

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  5. Jim, I can see and absolutely love your arguments over at Blogging Theology – I’d save the page though – I am astonished Paul has had the courage to let you post as much as you have.

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  6. After reading this I went and looked up some Catholic dogma/doctrine. I can’t say that I honestly ever cared about most of it. Sort of, “okay, fine. If you say so.” — but I just never cared. As far as the rise of the Third Reich, I tremble at what I see in my own country 80 years after the rise of Nazis in Germany…talk about true believers.

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  7. Have you been on a little Eric Hoffer binge lately Jim? 🤔😁 Isn’t this the second or third quote you’ve included? Just curious is all.

    If so, it’s interesting. He is also from the same region in Europe that my ancestors hail from: Alsace of eastern France, near Switzerland. 😉 He was also of the simple, hard working-class roots and upbringing which contributed to his wonderful modesty as a longshoreman philosopher as some labeled him. Although many contemporaries considered him an exceptional intellectualist, he kept his humility, something I greatly admire. Anyway… just wondering and curious there.

    Doctrines certainly do not equate to truth or fact do they?

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    1. I bought True Believer and read it a year or so ago. It’s been open on the night stand again now for a few weeks as I get time for slow reads. The concepts are sound yet unorthodox. People like to think they’re independent thinkers and he exposes that quite well with observant insight.
      I seem to have a habit of doing a few thematic posts in a row and doctrine was in my que when I read this today. These snippets are just the tip of his insight to mass movements as you know. I’m enjoying it more the second time. Great to see you sir!

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      1. Ahhh, mmmmm… well said Sir. I like that: “People like to think they’re independent thinkers and he exposes that quite well with observant insight.” But you can’t REALLY call yourself that unless you spend time in the ditches and alleys of all zip codes and also (at least try) to do the same in neighborhoods of Ivory Towers and non-stop opulent circles of business/self promotions and “grand openings.”

        Thank you my Friend. I’m still around and kicking! 😉 😛

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        1. What’s remarkable, is even though his thoughts tend to side with my observations, he causes introspection at the same time. He’s right as well. And it isn’t just religion but politics and pop culture and anywhere someone tugs you their way and gets you excited with a sales pitch. I thought it was quite incriminating that the abrahamic religions, particularly Islam and Christianity, encompass all three of the problems with this in a big way.
          How’s the TP situation in the DFW metroplex? You all ok?

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          1. BOOM! “Sales pitch.” You are spot on there Jim.

            Funny you ask about the TP situation and the current preparedness in DFW. When I went (begrudgingly and hesitant) to my neighborhood grocery store (an upscale Tom Thumb Supermarket) would you believe that the ONE thing I could not get were chips!!!! 😮 I shit you not! Most all of the brand-name chips, Frito-Lay, Doritos, Ruffles, Pringles, etc, were absolutely wiped out… gone!? Apparently Dallas residents have cleaned out most all chips and dips along with toilet-paper! 🤣

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            1. Here it’s been toilet o paper, meat, and today the frozen section, fries, tots, pizza, all gone. No rice either. Cris went today just to see the spectacle. We didn’t need anything and we’re pretty self sufficient here on the mount. I did our regular shopping yesterday morn.

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          2. The True Believer was assigned reading in college (way back in the day). I had my copy for years, lost it, bought another. It has fine examples of human nature as valid today as the time he wrote it and before.

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            1. Absolutely Bill. I quoted Hoffer on another site recently and the apologist went on to tell me Hoffer has lost favor and there’s nothing in that that would change his argument. He never rebutted, just discredited the messenger. The book is terrific.

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    1. Your not conflating this piece with woman troubles are you? Remember, if you love someone set them free. If they come back, they’re yours. If not, hunt them down and stalk them…

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        1. I agree. It was depressing for a time realizing I’d chased after the unsolvable riddle thinking g I was something I wasn’t. Clarity heals all wounds though

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