“Doctrinal warmongering.”  That is a phrase I have been using here in the blog on occasion to describe the rather uncivil theological discourse taking place through social media.  When Christians see those claiming some theological competence clanging swords against others claiming similar competence, then the anti-intellectualism I have been writing about becomes an natural response.

I just began Kevin J. Vanhoozer’s The Drama of Doctrine.  Here is a quote from his introduction hefty with wisdom concerning the bad taste “doctrine” often leaves in our mouths:

“Sound doctrine—authoritative teaching—is vital for the life of the church, and hence for the life of the world.  This is hardly a truism; yet in many circles, doctrine is thought to be the problem.  On the one hand, it is divisive, an obstacle to love and unity; on the other hand, it all too often appears insipid and irrelevant, maintaining no vital contact with the complications and particulars of everyday life.  Unfortunately, there is more than a little truth to each of these charges.  The fault lies less with sound doctrine, however, than with its mishandling, and with a misunderstanding of its nature and purpose.  A false picture of doctrine has held us captive.  We begin, then, by setting the stage: sound doctrine is suffering from confusion about its nature, from disagreement concerning the locus of its authority, and above all from its captivity to a debilitating dichotomy between theory and practice.”  [1]

Dr. Vanhoozer, well said—you have my attention….

[1] Kevin J. Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005), 3.

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