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Fulton County Gospel News

a work of the mammoth spring church of christ

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Doctrine

By Clovis Ragsdale

From FCGN August 1957

There is much confusion in the minds of people today concerning doctrine. One often hears the expression by many of the famous radio preachers that they are “non-doctrinal.” They make much over the fact that they stress faith and not doctrine. This leaves the impression that doctrine is not necessary, and should even be avoided. Is this attitude in keeping with the teachings of the Bible? I think that we can learn beyond a shadow of doubt that it is not.

Many will ask the question, what is doctrine? The dictionary defines doctrine as a principle, view, or set of opinions maintained or set forth by a person or set of persons. The word doctrine is mentioned less than a dozen times in the Old Testament but is found about fifty times in the New Testament. It is found for the first time in the New Testament in Matthew 7:28, where we are told that the people were astonished at the doctrine of Jesus after He had completed the Sermon on the Mount. By this we can see that what was set forth by Christ was doctrine.

In Matthew 16:12, Jesus warns against the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. By this we can see that there are many doctrines. In Matthew 15:9 our Saviour states that many would worship Him in vain, because they would teach for doctrine the commandments of men. We can see that this condition still exists today. Even those who claim to stress faith and leave off doctrine are teaching a doctrine when they make this claim, for they are expressing their opinion on the matter and that is a doctrine. What then should be our attitude toward doctrine? In Acts 2, we learn about three thousand people who, after they had answered the first gospel invitation and were baptized, continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine, and fellowship, in breaking of bread and in prayers.

Then the doctrine that we need to heed today is that given by the Apostles who were divinely inspired men. Their views and opinions were given unto them by the Holy Ghost and were from Heaven itself. Many today will not accept their doctrine because they do not agree with some of the points of doctrine, such as the necessity of baptism, observance of the Lord’s supper each first day of the week, the position of women in the Church, the need for elders, the possibility of apostasy, and many other things.

We today have no choice in matters pertaining to doctrine. We are commanded to keep the doctrine as taught by Christ and his apostles and to avoid all others, because they would have to be the ideas and opinions of men. Because men have not heeded the teachings of Christ on this matter, we have the confusion and division that is now so evident.

Clovis Ragsdale (1918-2004)

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It is not coincidental that we include an article by Clovis Ragsdale as this year marks the 60th year of publishing the Fulton County Gospel News. Brother Ragsdale and brother Boyd Morgan began editing FCGN in 1953. It now has a circulation exceeding 11,000, reaching almost every state and numerous countries. We are thankful for the good that has been done through the years as a result of their godly idea and hard work.

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