doctrinal purity vs grace

Does an emphasis on doctrinal purity rule out grace being the most obvious smell we give off?

I’ve been mulling this over a little over the past weeks. Is it possible for the two to live in tension?  I know it must but I have rarely seen it happen..

It seems than when our focus is on making sure people think/know/believe the ‘right’ things we become arbiters of what is ‘right’ and set ourselves up in judging and defining ourselves over and against others. It can be seen in lots of ways – both in those who are nervous about the gospel being diluted and those who wish people could see the bigger picture. In fact even when we want others to espouse a more gracious and liberating way of living we can become so focused on whether they are doing it right that we lose the gracious way of life we are trying to see more of.

I wonder if our focus is on doctrinal purity (of whichever sort that may be) if we can really live, breathe and smell grace?

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3 thoughts on “doctrinal purity vs grace”

  1. Is there a danger that the ‘live in tension’ explanation could be over used? In the sense of an easy ‘kick to touch’ for any apparent contradiction in our world views or sacred texts?
    -devil’s advocate

  2. I would say there is no danger in this case. Many doctrines in the bible have to be held in tension, and we always have to strive for balance. (Other example: Gods Sovereignty and Human Responsibility) Things are very rarely black and/or white.

  3. I guess I was trying to be a little provocative. Richard Foster when discussing 2 Timothy 3.15-16 comments that the goal is not doctrinal purity – the accumulation of information, but inner transformation. A clearer understanding (some might call it doctrinal purity) is a by product, but the goal must always be inner transformation. My fear is that if the focus is on doctrinal purity, on things that have to be held in tension, then the inner transformation, and resulting relational transformation doesn’t occur..

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