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July 3, 2013

Indoctrination


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Indoctrination - To teach (a person or group of people) systematically to accept doctrines, esp uncritically (dictionary.com)

The word indoctrination often has a negative connotation. No matter what you're beliefs or religious background we tend to think of indoctrination as something other religions do. In reality, I see indoctrination often in Christian churches and it bothers me. We have generations of people who have adopted the Christian church-goer lifestyle yet they're biblically illiterate. How can someone be a disciple, a Christ follower, and not know the Word? It's critical for us to know the theology and doctrines of our faith, but they should not replace true relationship with Jesus Christ. Indoctrination is teaching someone to live according to a doctrine alone. We do not confess faith in the doctrines of the church, but rather in Christ Himself. Understanding the doctrinal statement of our faith is only one component in the life of a disciple. 

In How to Think Theologically, Howard Stone and James Duke state that an "emphasis on Christian orthodoxy (correct opinion or belief) has always been balanced by warnings against giving lip service to the faith while acting as if other concerns are more important than the God revealed in Jesus Christ." He warns against being self-professed believers who's doctrinal views have no impact on the way they live. Stone and Duke define orthodoxy without an active commitment as "orthopraxy" (correct practice). Much of the Christian teaching I hear today is about correctly practicing the faith - that's indoctrination. Correct application of doctrine should be build upon a foundation of Truth that is continually transforming our lives.

Teaching the Word relationally involves experiencing Jesus as the center focal point of our lives. Jesus did not just send us the printed Word. Instead He became one of us, lived out the Truth, and offered us life in Him. We should follow His example allowing others to see the Word incarnate and made flesh in our lives. God intends His Church, the people of God, to be the incarnation of the living Word in Jesus Christ.