Doctrine – The Beginner’s Theological Vocabularium


Most reference resources list the word “Doctrine” as meaning a set of teachings or beliefs. It can be singular, as in the Doctrine of Atonement or referring to a set of individual Doctrines, as in Christian Doctrine. The same title can be used for differing Doctrines, as in the Protestant vs the Catholic Doctrines of the Virgin Birth (which differ greatly).

Doctrine is emphasized in Theology in that it encapsulates the idea of knowing what exactly it is you believe. goes even further, stating…

“Doctrine is the worldview by which we govern our lives. If our doctrine is based soundly upon Scripture, we can know we are walking in the path God designed for us. However, if we do not study the Word of God for ourselves (2 Timothy 2:15), we are led more easily into error. Although there are a variety of minor issues upon which Christians disagree, true doctrine is clearer than many imply. 2 Peter 1:20 says that “no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” There is a right interpretation of everything God says, and it is our job to discern that meaning, not create an interpretation to suit our tastes. God wants us to know His heart and has given us His Word upon which we can build godly lives (see Matthew 7:24). The more we study true doctrine, the more we understand God and ourselves.”

The idea of learning a specific set of beliefs is important in more areas than just Christianity or even religion. The U.S. Military has numerous documents and web sites devoted to Doctrine, where they teach military knowledge and stress it’s importance.

We also see it’s use in politics with the Truman Doctrine (“America must protect other democracies against authoritarian threat”) and the Carter Doctrine (“any Soviet aggression towards the Persian Gulf would be considered a danger to the essential interests of the United States”). As such these “doctrines” function more as “guiding foreign-policy principles” than fully-fledged statements of belief, since both have been debated heavily over the years.

However, Christian Doctrine, true Doctrine, is based on scripture and the only debate would be based on interpretation of scripture, not whether these Doctrines can be ignored (as many argue the Truman or Carter Doctrines should be).

Understanding Doctrine, to a Christian, is as important as understanding the rules of the road and how the steering wheel, brake and accelerator is to a driver.