Hanging around in the background of everything we plan to do in ADM is the conviction that the Holy Spirit needs a certain amount of information about God’s Word embedded in our lives to work the transformation God desires. Classes on doctrine, historic Christianity, or individual books of the Bible are the core of the strategy we have created. Yet many Christians struggle with the necessity of doctrine. James Steinberg states in a recent article in Christianity Today, “The word (doctrine) conjures in the modern mind a string of negative images: The Inquisition. Boring professors debating the number of angels on the head of a pin…Doctrine is a bludgeon, a curiosity, a rearranging of the deck chairs while the ship sinks.” (The Mind Under Grace, CT March 2010 p.23) Yet without doctrine, without a solid theology, we are without a compass or map on a very dangerous journey. What we think about God and how we think about Him set the course for how we live. It makes a huge difference in how I respond to difficulty if the God I know is both sovereign and good. Or, as we learned last week in our class on Loving God, if you look into the face of a god that has no compassion for others, then you are not looking into the face of the God of the Bible. Steinberg quotes philosopher James K.A. Smith, “Theology is not some intellectual option that makes us ‘smart’ Christians; it is the graced understanding that makes us faithful disciples”.
Studying God’s Word is meant to quicken our minds and make us wrestle with the implications of knowing the God it reveals. Even convictions about being environmentally conscious or serving the poor or being a good parent begin their formation in the study of the creator God who made us and the world we live in.
In an interview with Christianity Today, Graham Tomlin of Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican Church in London, England, (where the Alpha Course began) proposed this interesting idea: “Our vision is that churches themselves become theological communities where people think, talk and go deeper in theology…” (CT March 2010 p.96)