Doctrine is essential to the church—but you must never let the church know that. Doctrine is the key to unity in the church. Only a church united around doctrine can survive the winds of time and change—but you must never let them know that. Doctrine is essential to the Christian’s love for God and love for others. Doctrine is very simply knowing the Enemy, and the more Christians know the Enemy, the more they will love the Enemy and love others—but you must never let them know that. Instead, teach them that doctrine is dangerous, that doctrine divides, that doctrine is deadly.
Use clichés. Once these get repeated enough, people believe them. Teach them to say this: “Doctrine divides; love unites.” This will be well received by those who want to get along and not make any waves. The word love always wins. Use it to disarm.
You don’t need Christians to fight over doctrine. You certainly do not want them, under any circumstance, contending for true and sound doctrine. You simply want them to be apathetic about doctrine.
Teach them that our enemy cares only about how people behave, not about what they believe. They will soon think beliefs and doctrines simply get in the way of Christian living. Work to set up two categories of books: doctrine and Christian living. Make sure the doctrine books look intimidating. Make sure the Christian living books look inviting, and fill them with funny content.
When you get into the colleges and seminaries, do all that you can to make doctrine as “academic” as possible. If you can get the church to see doctrine as the work of only an elite few, you will accomplish much for our master.
Be sure to allow for just enough presence of doctrine so as not to arouse suspicions. Let them have a few doctrinal formulations to which they can give lip service, but keep watch so that they never get too serious about doctrine.
Use doctrine to divide. Encourage heresy. Find someone who reflects our master’s excellent trait of pride. That person will champion a heresy. Soon, many will follow the heretic away from the truth, because so many do not know the truth and have no discernment. Some will rise up against the heretics. Be sure they get labeled “divisive” and “mean-spirited.” The fight could go on for centuries if you are clever enough in your work.
Remember, though, how you will win this battle. You don’t need Christians to fight over doctrine. You certainly do not want them, under any circumstance, contending for true and sound doctrine. You simply want them to be apathetic about doctrine.
If doctrine is mentioned and they yawn, we win. Never let them read too much of Paul. Keep them away from Augustine, from the “Reformers,” from Jonathan Edwards, and others like them. If the church ever reads them and finds out what joy there is in doctrine, we lose.
Dr. Stephen J. Nichols (@DrSteveNichols) is president of Reformation Bible College, chief academic officer for Ligonier Ministries, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is author of numerous books and host of the podcasts 5 Minutes in Church History and Open Book.