doctrine: helping us read the story well

Ok, a little more thinking on doctrine.

Doctrine is not unlike reading a really fantastic novel and then going back, as a project, and writing up a one-page hand-out that names the characters and gives a basic synopsis of the plot. That page cannot be written until after the story has been read carefully, but once it has been by the first generation of readers, they produce a carefully constructed piece that will aid later generations in their reading of the story. Now each generation will want and need to read the story for itself. But reading the character sketches and the plot summary will certianly help one to read the story well.

That’s what doctrine does, I think. It names the characters and says some basic things about them–who they are and what the basic relationships are between them. Then doctrine sketches and outline of the plot of The Story. As one reads the canonical story for oneself, knowing the creeds helps one to read that story well.

It matters a great deal what kind of a story we are in (more on that little phrase in an old post here). Scripture is where the narrative unfolds. Doctrine helps undergird our reading the Story with a basic understanding of what sort of a story this is and who the principal characters are. At the same time as doctrine (specifically the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds) serves to make us aware of the characters and overarching plot in advance of our reading, we endeavor to hear the Story afresh, to be surprised at the twists and turns, and to feel the impact of the crest of the narrative, and so to be transformed.

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