What Are Doctrines?

A doctrine is what Christians believe about a particular topic. The topic may be broad, being one of the major areas of study listed below, or narrow, being on an aspect of one of those areas, such as the canon of the Bible.

– The Doctrine of the Bible
– The Doctrine of God
– The Doctrine of Man
– The Doctrine of Christ
– The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
– The Doctrine of Salvation
– The Doctrine of the Church
– The Doctrine of the Last Things

Since my faith is in Jesus Christ rather than in the Bible, I’d prefer to begin the above list with “The Doctrine of Christ.” However the systematic theology that my family and I are reading, Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, and the other major systematic theologies in my library begin with either “The Doctrine of the Bible” (Strong, Thiessen, Grudem) or “The Doctrine of God” (Aquinas, Calvin, Berkhof), and so I’ve begun the list with them. On the other hand, I’ve included in the list a doctrine not listed separately by any of the major systematic theologies, “The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit,” as is done in Pentecostal systematic theologies.

After providing a list of major areas of study similar to the above, Grudem identifies three criteria he used in selecting what narrow topics to include in his Systematic Theology: they are emphasized in the Bible, they have been significant throughout church history, or they are important for Christians today. Examples of doctrines important for Christians today although not significant earlier in church history are the Pentecostal doctrines of baptism in the Holy Spirit and of spiritual gifts. Thus I definitely plan to include them in our family reading of Systematic Theology.

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