The Savior moved from divine doctrine to dirty feet in a very short space of time. We would do well to remember this.
Christian doctrine is unique in that it is an intellectual response to the historical activity and revelatory disclosure of God. Doctrine is rational reflection upon God’s saving activity in Jesus Christ. Foundational to the idea of “doctrine” is the fact that we need to be told what God is like. It is not ours to determine what kind of God we will believe and obey. It is God’s to determine to show Himself to us. Doctrine is our effort to articulate what He has made known. Doctrine is the divinely authorized attempt to describe God in accordance with how He has revealed Himself in creation, in history, in Jesus Christ and in the Scriptures. In doing so, doctrine also serves to expose false interpretations of reality, false concepts of God. It is the aim of doctrine to make sense of the individual’s and the church’s experience of God as He has made Himself known in Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit is the Author of the Book that informs us of the identity of the real, historical Jesus. Scripture works hard to set forth the real Christ. The creeds are merely attempts to preserve this biblical portrait and to protect it from distortions. When a person says, “All I need to know is Jesus – doctrine isn’t important,” we should immediately ask in reply, “Who is Jesus?” The moment a person begins to answer that question; the person is inescapably involved with doctrine.
To the Christian, doctrine is unavoidable. Ours is never a choice between doctrine and no doctrine, but between sound doctrine and false doctrine. This is nowhere more urgent than when we are talking about the Christ, who is the object of our faith.