There are numerous methods (or metrics) for assessing doctrine. By this, I simply mean that we have a wealth of tools for evaluating the quality of our faith.
There are few, however, that are as simple or effective than the one I wish to share. This particular tool for assessing doctrine does not require years of study. It does not even require months of study. It is a tool that any Christian can apply right from the get-go.
The fruit of a doctrine
That is the metric of the character the doctrine inevitably leads to. A doctrine that is righteous should lead to righteousness. If a doctrine is loving then it should lead to love. While a doctrine that leads to pride, factions, conflict, aggression, condemnation, and all those other bad things must, self-evidently, be bad.
This stems, from Matthew 7:15-20 which tells us “by their fruits you will know them”. Given axiom zero (that all scripture is good for teaching), we can know that this has something to teach us. Specifically, that the fruit of a doctrine must be good for it to be considered a good doctrine.
What is good fruit?
Now Galatians 5:22-23 shows us what fruits we should be looking for when assessing doctrine:
A doctrine that leads to these sorts of characteristics must, at the very least, be good even if it is not perfect. Yet a doctrine that leads to the opposite is fatally flawed.
Why this matters?
Too frequently we Christians have been quick to insist that a doctrine is right because we say “the Bible says” and yet the very attitudes it leads to are anything but Biblical.
Such characteristics as found in Galatians 5:20 such as hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, and factions. These are the symptoms of a doctrine or belief that are at odds with the character of Christ. They lead to the sort of behaviour I call “trolling for Christ” – which we need to stop doing.
If at any time we find our belief leading us towards hostilities, strife, and dissension then it is our belief and not those of others which needs to be assessed. I can assure you that if we are not readily assessing doctrine that we preach then others will do it for us and be far less kind when they do.
If you need a scripture for this act of self-assessment – 2 Corinthians 13:5 directs us to examine ourselves.
Let us examine our own doctrines to be sure that they produce good fruits and be ready to uproot any that have failed to yield good fruit.