In general, doctrine is a principle or body of principles presented for acceptance or belief, as by a religious, political, scientific, or philosophic group; a synonym would be dogma, though this is a generally negative term to use. In Christianity, doctrine refers to a particular teaching or to the body of teaching which is believed to be consistent with the Bible and Christian theology.
The term doctrine refers to that which is taught. The Greek word in the New Testament is didaskalia, and it is variously translated as teaching, instruction, or doctrine. Christians use it to describe the basic theology which is understood to be the teaching of the Bible. In this sense, it represents the content of the Christian faith.
Doctrine is important for Christians. Scripture itself stresses the importance of sound doctrine. In the Pastoral Epistles of 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus alone, there are 28 specific references to the importance of doctrine or the content of our teaching. For example,
- Give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching (i.e. doctrine). (1 Tim. 4:13).
- Preach the word . . . with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. (2 Tim. 4:2-3).
- Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching (doctrine); persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (2 Tim. 4:16).
- holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (Titus 1:9).
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