There is too much prejudice against doctrine in our day, especially against doctrinal preaching. Some hold that doctrines are too obscure, too difficult to explain to the lay mind, and that, since there are so many different opinions, such discussions and sermons result in confusion rather than knowledge. Sadly, some have gone so far as to claim it does not matter what a man believes so long as he behaves himself and attends church.
How can a man live right if he does not understand the Bible? Why should he be interested in and faithful to a church if he does not understand its position on matters of faith? Doctrinal preaching is simply teaching the Bible.
The spiritual anemia in our church life is due to these prevailing ideas and this dread of doctrinal preaching. Church members very often do not know where they stand on matters of faith. It is not uncommon to hear a layman or even a pastor discuss a doctrine contrary to the prevailing position of his church. It is a sad state of affairs that so many of our church members are doctrinal infants.
We can never have a full blooded, mature church or a strong Christianity until we have mature Christians. To be mature, we must know doctrine. We desperately need a revival of doctrinal preaching from our pulpits. Theology will then be clear and we will automatically eliminate our conflicts and many differing opinions. This will also bring about a Bible-reading, thinking, and faithful membership.
We must be concerned about this deep-rooted ignorance which concerns every position we hold dear. Hazy ideas and hearsay are often the only knowledge many have on great cardinal doctrines. As goes the preacher, so goes the church. Therefore throw out stunts and campaigns, and preach doctrine to fill those empty pews. Preach doctrine and dust off the balcony seats. Hold fast sound teaching and avoid those book reviews, and watch the evening congregation swell. Preach tomorrow's newspaper written centuries ago. Let your members know that when you preach, the world is left outside. Stir their souls with the word of God. Stop talking about a better Christian world until your members know what it is to be a Christian.
Trim your sails to suit men and you will trim your effectiveness for Christ. Sweeten your sermons with the soothing talk of men and you will give your congregation spiritual diabetes. Preach on popular ideas and your folks will try the way of the world and bring its dregs to your door. Preach on the great doctrines and let them know God and the riches of His word.
This old world is hungry and knows not the nature of its own appetite. It is hungry for the Bread of Life, the word of God, the authority for life and eternity. Preach doctrine, and these hungry hearts will be filled. Preach doctrine, and we will shake this old world and awaken it to a realization of its God-given responsibilities. We will then turn people back to God and into paths of peace and happiness. Our people are growing lean on the things of the world and only slumber in their own confusion as the alarm is sounded. Preach God's word and doctrine regularly and carefully until at last there stand about us strong, mature believers ready for the fray against sin, ready to carry the gospel to the world.
Arthur H. Stainback wrote this article that appeared in The Signs of the Times in 1946.