The title of this post begs the question, who are the doctrine-obsessed and is that an accurate assessment of them? In the Washington Post’s Evangelicals Feel a Need for Renewal, this is one of many perspectives on what’s wrong with evangelicalism as discussed at a recent conference at Gordon-Conwell:
Richard Alberta, senior pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brighton, Mich., said preoccupations with doctrinal purity help explain why he struggles to round up other evangelicals to join him at anti-abortion events.
“When you get evangelicals among themselves, instead of addressing the social and moral issues, they get backwatered into some debate about dispensationalism or Calvin or Charismatic Renewal,” Alberta said. “There’s lots of suspicion, and those worries seem to act as filters that keep evangelicals from getting together.”
Similar frustrations were expressed by Travis Hutchinson, pastor of Highlands Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America) in Lafayette, Ga. He said he routinely gets a cool response from other evangelicals when he asks them to join his efforts to minister among undocumented immigrants.
The problem, he said, is that the doctrine-obsessed have lost touch with the heart of Jesus. “The missing ingredient is not the primacy of the mind and doctrine,” Hutchinson said. “It’s the willingness to suffer.”
Is it the lack of cohesive doctrine that inspires the focus on doctrine? Scripture calls us not only to unity in mission, but also in unity in message.