Understanding the doctrines of the faith is probably not at the top of your daily priority list! However, investing the time to understand the doctrines of the faith is important. No, it’s not just for pastors and theologians. All Christian believers should take time to understand what they believe…and why!
Why understanding the doctrines of the faith is important?
Before we go much further, let’s define the term “doctrine.” Basically, doctrine refers to a set of beliefs, a body of teachings, or the principles taught by a group or belief system. The word originates from the Latin word doctrina meaning “teaching, learning” and from doctor meaning “teacher.” In essence, doctrine is the teachings of a teacher.
In the case of Christianity, doctrine is the accepted beliefs of the Christian faith. It would include things such as who is God, the sinlessness of Christ, the atoning sacrifice of the cross, etc. These doctrines are essential to the faith and are found in God’s teachings through His Word, the Bible.
Why study doctrine?
Knowing what you believe is important. In a very divided culture with religions a plenty, identifying the differences is important. Many religious groups use the same terminology, but different dictionaries! So Christians need to make sure they know clearly what the Bible teaches. Either Jesus is the one and only son of God, or not. This doctrine alone separates Christianity from a popular cult group.
How to study doctrine?
The church serves as one of the main teaching avenues in America. Pastors spend hours throughout the week studying God’s Word in order to deliver impactful sermons on Sunday morning. However, churches often are pulled in various directions resulting in a variety of sermons. Sermons vary from personal needs, church needs, political needs, etc. Pastors tend toward exposition or topical styles. Granted, doctrine is still being communicated. The problem is that is might not be all that clear.
Seminaries and Bible colleges also serve as great places to teach doctrine. Courses are offered entitled Systematic Theology, Doctrine 101, or Fundamentals of Theology. Depending on the focus of the school, such courses normally focus on the major theological issues of the Christian faith. There are some advantages of studying doctrine at a seminary or Bible college:
- Doctrine from a Doctor — One advantage of studying at a seminary or Bible college is that you have a professor who has advanced education in a particular area. Where pastors may have had a doctrine course in seminary, an accredited seminary or Bible college will have a professor with significant coursework in theology.
- Skin in the Game = Results in the End — A second advantage is that paying to take a class often puts more focus on the topic. Imagine taking a free class at church. You sign up, buy the book, and show up. However, when life gets busy, you may slack off in the readings. You signed up with good intentions. In the end, life gets in the way. But imagine taking the same class at a Bible college where you spent some money in registering and paying tuition. When life gets busy, you’ll push through because you made a significant financial investment.
- Submerge the Depths — Unless your pastor or small group leader is a strong theologian, they are only going to lead you on snorkeling adventures. They can dive down and show you some exciting things, but they must come up for air regularly. Why? They just aren’t trained to dig that deep into theology. Or, perhaps the pulls of the church and the needs of the people will not allow it. But a theology professor can take you to greater depths. The focus of a course may cover all the major beliefs, or it might just cover the doctrine of eschatology (last things, end times).
Doctrine at CCBS
At Carolina College of Biblical Studies, we believe understanding the doctrines of the faith is important. As our vision states, we seek to disciple Christ-followers for a lifetime of effective servant leadership. So whether you are a pastor wanting to take your people deeper, a small group leader trying to shore up weaknesses in your own teachings, or a church member who wants to dive deep on your own…we are here to equip you.
Our Biblical Studies degree requires all students to take a core of doctrine classes: Doctrine 1, Doctrine 2, and Doctrine 3. These courses address nine of the essential doctrines. Then we dive a bit deeper into three additional areas: Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Doctrine of the Church, and Doctrine of Last Things. Our professors have invested significant academic and personal hours studying in their fields. Their greatest desire would be to help you understand the doctrines of the faith better.
But you don’t have to be a degree seeking student to take classes at CCBS. We’d love for you to take a course or two and become better equipped. For more information on a degree or a course, contact our Admissions Team at (910) 323-5614 or visit us online at www.ccbs.edu.