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Quotes about doctrine from throughout Christian History.
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With us there is no desire of self-exaltation, nor do we indulge in a variety of opinions. We have renounced the popular and earthly; we obey the commands of God; we follow the law of the Father of immortality; and we reject everything which rests upon human opinion. Not only do the rich among us pursue our philosophy, but the poor enjoy instruction without charge, for the things which come from God surpass the reimbursement of worldly gifts. Thus we admit all who desire to hear, even old women and adolescents. In short, persons of every age are treated by us with respect, but every kind of licentiousness is kept at a distance. (Address to the Greeks 32)
Now, since man is a living being compounded of soul and flesh, he must needs exist by both of these: and, whereas from both of them offences come, purity of the flesh is the restraining abstinence from all shameful things and all unrighteous deeds, and purity of the soul is the keeping faith towards God entire, neither adding thereto nor diminishing therefrom. For godliness is obscured and dulled by the soiling and the staining of the flesh, and is broken and polluted and no more entire, if falsehood enter into the soul: but it will keep itself in its beauty and its measure, when truth is constant in the soul and purity in the flesh. For what profit is it to know the truth in words, and to pollute the flesh and perform the works of evil? Or what profit can purity of the flesh bring, if truth be not in the soul? For these rejoice with one another, and are united and allied to bring man face to face with God. (The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching. Transl. by Robinson, Armitage D.D. PDF. [NY:MacMillan Co., 1920] Par. 2.)
You [Faustus, a Manichaean] ought to say plainly that you do not believe the Gospel of Christ.† For to believe what you please and not to believe what you please is to believe yourselves and not the gospel. (Against Faustus XVII:3)
Is Christianity a system of articles of belief, let them be as correct as language can give them? Never. So far am I from believing it, that I would rather have a man holding, as numbers of you do, what seems to me the most obnoxious truths, opinions the most irreverent and gross, if at the same time he lived in the faith of the Son of God, that is, trusted in God as the Son of God trusted in him, than I would have a man with every one of whose formulas I utterly coincided, but who knew nothing of a daily life and walk with God. The one, holding doctrines of devils, is yet a child of God; the other, holding the doctrines of Christ and his Apostles, is of the world, yea, of the devil. (Unspoken Sermons: Series I, II, and III, p. 389 )
'How! a man hold the doctrine of devils, and yet be of God?'
Yes; for to hold a thing with the intellect, is not to believe it. A man's real belief is that which he lives by; and that which the man I mean lives by, is the love of God, and obedience to his law, so far as he has recognized it. Those hideous doctrines are outside of him; he thinks they are inside, but no matter; they are not true, and they cannot really be inside any good man....What a man believes, is the thing he does. (Unspoken Sermons: Series I, II, and III, p. 389 )
What I come to and insist upon is, that, supposing your theories [i.e., pet doctrines] right, and containing all that is to be believed, yet those theories are not what make you Christians, if Christians indeed you are. On the contrary, they are, with not a few of you, just what keeps you from being Christians. For when you say that, to be saved, a man must hold this or that, then you are leaving the living God and his will, and putting trust in some notion about him or his will. (Unspoken Sermons: Series I, II, and III, p. 389-390)
Except the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus make a man sick of his opinions, he may hold them to doomsday for me; for no opinion, I repeat is Christianity, and no preaching of any plan of salvation is the preaching of the glorious gospel of the living God. (Unspoken Sermons: Series I, II, and III, p. 391)
I do say that the importance they place on theory is even more sadly obstructive to true faith than such theories themselves: while the mind is occupied in enquiring,'Do I believe or feel this thing right?'-the true question is forgotten: 'Have I left all to follow him?' To the man who gives himself to the living Lord, every belief will necessarily come right; the Lord himself will see that his disciple believe aright concerning him. If a man cannot trust him for this, what claim can he make to faith in him? It is because he has little or no faith, that he is left clinging to preposterous and dishonouring ideas, the traditions of men concerning his Father, and neither his teaching nor that of his apostles. The living Christ is to them but a shadow; the all but obliterated Christ of their theories no soul can thoroughly believe in. (Unspoken Sermons: Series I, II, and III, p. 392-3)
While the mind is occupied in enquiring, "Do I believe or feel this thing right?" the true question is forgotton: "Have I left all to follow him?"
To the man who gives himself to the living Lord, every belief will necessarily come aright. The Lord himself will see that his disciple believe aright concerning him. (The Truth in Jesus [Minneapolis, MN: BethanyHouse; 2007] p. 60-61, italics in original)
Correctest notions without obedience are worthless. (The Truth in Jesus [Minneapolis, MN: BethanyHouse; 2007] p. 67)
I cannot say it often enough, that we must carefully differentiate between doctrine and life. Doctrine is a piece of heaven, life is a piece of earth. Life is sin, error, uncleanness, misery, and charity must forbear, believe, hope, and suffer all things. Forgiveness of sins must be continuous so that sin and error may not be defended and sustained. But with doctrine there must be no error, no need of pardon. There can be no comparison between doctrine and life. The least little point of doctrine is of greater importance than heaven and earth. Therefore we cannot allow the least jot of doctrine to be corrupted. (Commentary on Galations 5:10)
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