Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God. By Bobby Jamieson. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013.
In our day when doctrine is often viewed as boring, divisive, irrelevant, or even more tragic, just simply non-existent, Jamieson’s call for churches to give due attention and thereby reap the long-term gains of sound doctrine is like a breath of fresh air!
As part of the 9Marks series of books for “Building Healthy Churches”, SD reminds pastors and leaders how doctrine underpins everything in the life of a church. Whether your church directly affirms doctrinal distinctives, quietly affirms doctrinal distinctives, or purports to have no doctrinal distinctives, doctrine will inform and shape each and every congregation. Therefore, as shepherds of God’s flock, we should strive to feed, nourish, and grow the people of God on healthy, biblical, sound doctrine.
Jamieson defines sound doctrine as “a summary of the Bible’s teaching that is both faithful to the Bible and useful for life” (p.17) Doctrine, then, is how we articulate and apply Scripture to life and faith. Jamieson demonstrates in the opening chapters how doctrine touches all aspects of church life and especially informs how we read and teach the Bible. Both of those points are not to be overlooked too quickly. We don’t “do” church or “read” Scripture in a vacuum. We do so from a standpoint, a perspective, underneath of which stands a doctrinal view or presupposition. That underpinning doctrinal viewpoint gets translated into how we interpret and apply Scripture. It is imperative then that we keep allowing Scripture to inform and correct and shape our views into the Bible’s view in all matters of life and salvation.
In the remaining chapters, Jamieson demonstrates from Scripture how sound doctrine produces holiness, love, unity, worship, witness, and in the postscript, joy. The very virtues we hope to see flow in our own lives and in the lives of our fellow believers are directly linked to the amount and the kind of doctrinal intake, or diet, we are exposed to.
Doctrine is far from boring; it’s essential to living!