I recently heard a song on the Christian radio station that made me squirm in my seat. I admit I’m critical of most contemporary Christian music anyway, with its watered-down, self-focused messages, but this song was particularly unsettling:
It’s gotta be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
According to this musician’s diagnosis, doctrine takes a back seat to passion and emotion. Christianity is not so much about a specific set of beliefs as it is warm, fuzzy feelings. Such thinking is unfortunately all too common in mainstream Christianity. Theology is denounced as divisive, legalistic religion, and is replaced by a “relationship” that’s little more than romantically strolling down the beach with Jesus.
In a humorous twist, the very next song on the radio went a little something like this:
We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He’s coming back again, we believe
I don’t know if that was an intentional counterbalance by the station DJ or just plain old irony, but I can’t think of two more opposite songs. While the first criticizes doctrine, the second highlights it as the core of all we say and do.
It affirms the triune nature of God, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the new life of a believer, and the future return and reign of Christ. It features the distinct doctrines that have made up Christianity for the past two-thousand years.
Ir reminds me of one of the great creeds of old such as the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed, proclaiming the truths of Scripture. It’s right in line with a church history that is brimming with beautiful statements of faith. Even the early church affirmed its teaching through confessions such as those quoted in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Philippians 2:6-11 and 1 Timothy 3:16.
Those beliefs are not petty issues or hindrances to our walk with God. In fact, they are its heartbeat. Although passion is important, Scripture makes it clear that what we believe shapes who we are and what we do. Our passion must spring from our doctrine, not the other way around.
Paul actually warned against passion without doctrine when he said the unbelieving Jews “have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). All the fervor in the world was worthless when not rooted in a proper set of beliefs concerning God, the Messiah, or salvation. A concern for theology does not have to mean an absence of intimate communion with God. Love and belief do not need to be opposing factors, as the first song implied. The two are not meant to be separate spheres of Christian living, but one.
Christianity is more than a feeling. It’s more than “falling in love”, more than “losing [your] heart.” It is something to believe in, or rather, someone to believe in. Doctrine testifies to the glorious hope of just who He is, what He’s done, and how that affects us.