Sunday, July 30, 2006

Where do Christian Doctrines Come From?

I came across this quote in Nancey Murphy's book Beyond Liberalism and Fundamentalism. It is from a book by Shailer Matthews The Faith of Modernism and she says it was liberal Christianity's most well read book of the 1920's.

"We must discover when a doctrine arose, for what purpose it was organized, what religious attitude it expressed, what unifying social proactice or idea it used as a "pattern". From such a study the conclusion will be clear that while formulas are a part of our religion they are not to be identified with that religion. They spring from the effort of Christians in different situations to organize their lives and carry their daily burdens, perform their varying tasks, not only with prayer and sacrifice but in loyalty to the inherited attitudes and convictions of their group regarding God and Jesus Christ.

...A study of the origin and purpose of our doctrines shows how patterns have originated and served actual needs of a group."

Since shortly after adolescence, this sums up how I've always felt about doctrinal matters. I'd say doctrinal matters serve the needs of the group, generally. On the other hand, unfortunately, doctrinal matters can be exploited to serve the alpha males who are running things. (Even though they don't know it.)

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