Doctrine may be defined as that body of revealed truths taught throughout the Word of God. It is the detailed expression of the beliefs of the Christian Church, the tenets of her faith. Doctrine is dogma, the authoritative declaration of the “faith once delivered to the saints.”
During the last century great emphasis was placed upon the doctrinal preaching of the Word of God. and it was this type of preaching that produced such a flow of spiritual vigour as was then experienced. There has been a departure from such teaching among Christians; consequently, spiritual vitality ebbs.
Professor Dr. James Orr wrote: “Everyone must be aware that there is at the present time a great prejudice against doctrine — or, as it is often called ‘dogma’ — in religion; a great distrust and dislike of clear and systematic thinking about divine things. Men prefer, one cannot help seeing, to live in a region of haze and indefiniteness in regard to these matters. They want their thinking to be fluid and indefinite — something that can change with the times, and with the new lights which they think are being constantly brought to bear upon it, continually taking on new forms, and leaving the old behind.”
Preaching impoverished by a lack of doctrine results in an appalling ignorance of the fundamentals, and in a foggy approach to many of the problems in the world and in the Church.
In order to meet the need of God’s people with doctrinal messages, one, no matter how gifted of the Lord as a speaker, must apply himself diligently and intensely to the study of the Holy Scriptures. He must learn to compare passage with passage, to classify themes and topics, and to organize the material thus gathered. He must be willing, prayerfully and carefully to conduct for his own benefit, and for the benefit of others, a methodical effective study of the entire Bible.
The longing of many is for the return to the doctrinal ministry of the last century. There is a disappointment in the shallow, indefiniteness of present day preaching.