If pastors and laypeople of the church are not diligent about doctrine, local assemblies can become unguarded melting pots of heresy. I’ve shared sentiments like this over and over again through my preaching, teaching, and writing (especially on social media sites). I simply cannot stress this issue enough. Without a seriousness and care of theological study, doctrine, in the eyes of those not committed to study it, see such study a hassle and unnecessary, which then permits that local church and the people within it to come up with strange theology. Every person has a theological framework through which they view and interpret the Bible and the activity in culture/the world. The questions that require answering in finding out about your’s and others’ are: what does one believe, why/how did one come to believe in such doctrine, and how does this doctrine manifest itself in the everyday life of the churchgoer? Without a proper understanding of historical Christian orthodoxy (certain staple doctrines), you and your church run the risk of theological inclusion, hence becoming a sort of melting pot, in which heresy is accepted and spreads. [Note: Secondary or tertiary doctrines can be nuanced, debated and disagreed upon]. For example, if one knows nothing about the Trinity (a primary theological issue that is non-negotiable for orthodox Christianity) then one would fall into modalism (…the view that expresses that the three persons of the Trinity as different “modes” of the Godhead. Adherants believed that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not distinct personalities, but different modes of God’s self-revelation. A typical modalist approach is to regard God as the Father in creation, the Son in redemption, and the Spirit in sanctification. In other words, God exists as Father, Son and Spirit in different eras, but never as triune. Stemming from Modalism, Patripassianism believed that the Father suffered as the Son [see other Trinitarian heresies]), which would then drastically alter the relationship that Jesus expresses he has with the Father as seen in John 17. That is a big deal because it is contrary to Scripture and distorts the person of God. However, those who do not care about doctrine do not see the conflict nor wish to see it.
Issues like this one are crucial. We, both ministers and laypeople, are to be faithful stewards of God’s special revelation and that entails diligent study of it; our interpretation resulting from our studies [or lack thereof] both directly and indirectly shape our views of God, people and subjects, which in turn affect how we act and react in a wide variety of situations concerning a great number of issues. The Church is not to be a place where any and every interpretation, and application of said interpretation, is accepted as competent. The Christian, whether a vocational minister or layperson, is called to discern (Phil. 1:10; Rom. 12:9) truth much like we see the Bereans do when Paul and Silas visit them and speak (Acts 17:10-15). There must be a balance: we cannot be all inclusive on interpretations of primary doctrine [One God; Trinity; truthfulness and reality of Christ’s death and resurrection; existence/reality of sin and need for repentance; salvation by grace through faith] nor can we afford to be radically exclusive on secondary doctrines [i.e. my theology is the only correct theology and if one doesn’t agree they are a heretic. Example: Calvinism v. Arminianism; Amillennialism v. Premillennialism v. Postmillennialism]. In short, study the Bible diligently; the purity of the Bride of Christ is at stake. What a weighty, yet humbling, and wonderful responsibility.