what is doctrine: maybe it doesn’t mean what we think it means?

you have to believe what i believe. what has happened to me must be true for you. and my experience must be your experience and so together we can agree that we have the same doctrine. sometimes the word doctrine gets defined as something we believe in or a set of beliefs that we must adhere to. but what of the word doctrine, what does that have to say to any neo-doctrinal belief system?

the word doctrine is latin in origin. it means ‘ teaching or instruction’. it is a verb, rather than a noun. so instead of it being something written in stone, it is the act of writing. when a parent is teaching a child the difference between right and wrong, the parent is teaching the child their doctrinal worldview. we tend to use the worde doctrine in religious circles, but the definition doesn’t preclude that the word is one with religious overtones. when a professor is teaching a subject, he is enacting his doctrine. when i speak at a church, i am enacting my doctrine.  when we share our experience of the divine with those we meet, we are sharing doctrine. when we share our worldview with or without naming the person of God, we are sharing doctrine.

i think the first step in restoring our idea of doctrine is realizing that somewhere in our church history we intentionally/unintentionally have colonialized or spiritualized certain terminology above other types of words. and so we must be okay with the painful process of divorcing ourselves from the reality that we have created a stigma with the words we have chosen to associate ourselves with. and so i think the next step would be whether we choose to keep this terminology or seek out new ones….


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