14 August 2014

Teaching Sound Doctrine, Adorning the Gospel

by Frank Turk

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Frank in the first of a two-part post back in July 2009. Frank discussed Paul's primary focus in his letter to Titus.

As usual, the comments are closed.
But as for you,teach what accords with sound doctrineOlder men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. (Titus 2:1-10)

The thing about this letter is that it just wells up in the reader. I think a lot of people miss that for their own reasons -- most of them not intentional -- but here the stuff that ought to stick to your ribs, theologically and practically, is simply so obvious that I think most people read past it.

The reason I say that is this: it's somewhat astounding that Paul doesn't here break into doxology, doesn't break into Eph 1-2, doesn't publish a digested book of Romans.

To Titus, who is sent to put things in order, and who must raise up elders, and is in a culture that is, frankly, as far from the Gospel as the most unchurched city in the ancient world could be, Paul tells Titus, "teach people how to adorn the Gospel." Teach what accords with sound doctrine because these people need to adorn the Gospel.

This passage is astonishing for one reason only: it says unequivocally that the church ought to be training itself up in such a way that the word of God will not be reviled. That is: it ought to be teaching people how to live after they know the Gospel is true.

The doctrine in this passage is shoe-leather doctrine. It says that those of us who are in the church must act like the church -- that it is necessary and not optional. And in that: we have to be building each other up. The older must teach the younger -- not merely systematics but pragmatics, like how to love one's husband and be submissive to him, how to be a self-controlled young man, how to grow old with dignity and sound in faith.

And this makes perfect sense, given what Paul has already said about raising up elders: if elders ought to be men who are clinging to the word of God, and are formed by the word of God, bearing fruit by the word of God, somehow the church has to be the place where these kinds of men are grown.

We're going to come back to this again next week, but think about this, dear pastor reader: somehow good works adorn sound doctrine. Somehow, the facts about God ought to be adorned with a people who are a "model of good works". And it's your job to preach doctrine and the consequences of those doctrines -- that is, how to live now that this is true.