Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Doctrinal Pride

I was just reading Jerry Bridges' recent book: Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate, for possible application to our church's Core Seminars. His discussion of doctrinal pride caught my eye:
Closely akin to moral pride is doctrinal pride, the asumption that whatever my doctrinal beliefs are, they are correct, and anyone who holds another belief is theologically inferior. Those of us who care about doctrine at all are susceptible to this form of pride. It doesn't matter if we are Arminians or Calvinists, whether we subscribe to Dispensational or Covenant theology, or perhaps have embraced some form of eclectic theology, we tend to think our doctrinal beliefs are the correct ones and look with some disdain on those whose beliefs are different from ours.

And then to complete the spectrum of this type of pride, there are those who don't consider doctrine important and so look with disdain on those of us who do. In other words, this form of pride is a pride in our particular belief system, whatever that may be, and an attitude that in our beliefs we are spiritually superior to those who hold other beliefs. (p. 92)
I think it's important to hold theological beliefs that you believe are correct, and Bridges discusses that in successive paragraphs. But he's right to point out the pride in assuming that you could not be in error, and that something must be true since you believe it. He's also right to focus on the disdain for those who disagree.

This is a pretty good book—very practical and useful for directing our attention to sins we don't think about quite as much. And there's a study guide available as well for classroom use.


greglong said...

We just got done working through this book and discussion guide with the Adult Bible Fellowship Group I teach at church. It is very challenging and I highly recommend it.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Wouldn't it be more proud to take an unscriptural position? I ask that because of this line:

"Closely akin to moral pride is doctrinal pride, the asumption that whatever my doctrinal beliefs are, they are correct, and anyone who holds another belief is theologically inferior."

So you're not proud if you assume your beliefs are wrong and that everyone else has theological positions superior? I would hate to believe like that. I have confidence in the Holy Spirit, in my church, and in the perspecuity of Scripture---not in myself. How could a wrong belief be superior? I can see how this view would be popular in a postmodern culture.

Greg said...

Kent, I think the key is the word ‘inferior’. Bridges is not saying that we should consider those who hold opposing views that we deem to be incorrect as superior; he’s merely saying that we should not consider them to be inferior. You would not suggest that we SHOULD consider them inferior, would you? If I happen to be right in a particular area of doctrine, it’s only by the grace of God – not because I am superior. I think that’s all Bridges is saying, and why he says it is “closely akin to moral pride”.

I do know for sure that he’s NOT saying we should assume our beliefs are wrong, or that wrong beliefs are superior…

But what do I know? I think this is the first time I’ve ever posted something here that wasn’t a joke.

Kent Brandenburg said...

OK Greg, I can see how that the second part of the quote could be a problem, that is, thinking the person is inferior because he has a different belief than I do. It's the first part the stuck out to me, that it is proud to think that I'm correct. Perhaps I should assume that Jerry Bridges means "not being open minded," or "not being willing to consider the possibility that I could be wrong." That I get. And I think that is an OK mindset.

I can tell you this for sure. People are treated with inferiority because of certain beliefs they have. Let me name the most obvious: KJV.