Edited by Gordon Kuhrt
Preface to 2010 republication on Fulcrum
Doctrine Matters was first published in 1993. It sold out its print-run of 4,000 copies, but the publishers were involved in major re-organization, and it was not re-printed. The editor and authors are delighted that the Fulcrum leadership team see the book as having a significant role, and so wish to make it again available on-line. I believe the original Foreword remains appropriate. The eight chapters will be serialised on the Fulcrum website in monthly instalments.
The truth will make you free,' said Jesus. But 'What is truth?' say many along with Pontius Pilate. 'I am the truth,' says Jesus, and 'if you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth.' John 8:31-2, rsv. Christian doctrine attempts to summarise and arrange in an orderly way the truth that Jesus taught and his apostles developed.
Christian faith is having a hard time in many parts of Western Europe, but across the world it is a vigorous, growing and dynamic movement. Among Christians in Britain there is widespread interest in and concern about the Bible and Christian experience, about evangelism and worship, about spirituality and ethical issues. But doctrine is not popular.
Doctrine seems close to being doctrinaire; dogma smacks of being dogmatic. A widespread perception is that doctrine is boring and difficult; it is irrelevant to real life, spirituality, evangelism and the great ethical problems; it is divisive and dangerous because it encourages bigotry. Some of those accusations have real point. Doctrine has generally not been well taught, either in college or church. Where it is popular it is sometimes a rigid and narrow system.
The writers of this book want to see a real change. I have invited seven other contributors who are specialists in different areas of Christian discipleship to demonstrate how important doctrine is. It is relevant and it can be interesting. Without it, Christian life and faith is in danger of being like a body without its bone structure correctly co-ordinated. No doubt the skeleton should not be toointrusive, but without it firmly behind the scene, the muscles, vital organs and flesh would be in big trouble. So with Christian life - without a good doctrinal framework, the strength of Christians, the vital activities of evangelism and ethics, and the beauty of spirituality and worship will not survive in a healthy way.
We pray that God's truth will be known, loved, lived and shared - to the glory of God, and for the well-being of his people and world.
The initial vision and outline of the book emerged from the Theology Group of the Church of England Evangelical Council which the editor chaired.
Venerable Dr Gordon Kuhrt - formerly Archdeacon of Lewisham and Director of Ministry for the Church of England.
Ven Dr Gordon W Kuhrt formerly Archdeacon of Lewisham, and then Director of Ministry for the Archbishops’ Council 1996-2006