I am also passionate for believers in the church to understand the unconditional love of God so well that it sets them free from the legalism that is so prevalent in the american church today.
Because I hold those two views with unswerving commitment, I have been called a heretic, antinomian(one who rejects the law of God), unsaved, and disciple of satan. But these people do not know me very well. Actually they choose not to know me.
So to the question posed to me on more than one occasion,” Which is more important, right doctrine or unconditional love?”, I would have to answer both.
A few months ago I sat in a congregational meeting at the church we used to attend. As usual the people with the strongest and narrowest point of view were the most vocal. One comment though really surprised me. One of the church stalwarts (she is the church’s self-appointed doctrinal police officer) stood up in a debate about how to develop community in the church, declaring as though she had just come off of Mount Sinai that, “If we want community, join the Elks Club or other social group! What we need is “Sound Doctrine”, not community!!!! Unfortunately, this is an unbiblical statement.
Doctrine helps us to understand God, Jesus, and the faith we hold. There is doctrine that clearly brings us to an understanding of God’s love, our brokenness in sin, and the cross of Jesus which brings us into a relationship with the Creator of the universe. There is doctrine that shows us that we are loved unconditionally, and that God is never angry with the believer and that, in our struggle to become more like Jesus, the work the Holy Spirit in accomplishing spititual growth in our lives. And there is doctrine on how to love each other, and how the Body of Christ should operate in the world. Love is foundational to all the important doctrine, either overtly or covertly, it is there.
Then there is doctrine that is debatable such as the drinking, smoking, end times, and to some the understanding of hell and a multitude of other issues. Just an aside, there is no doctrine at all about how we are to be patriotic americans,in regards to voting, or political party affiliation But we spend most of our time arguing about these doctrinal (and non doctrinal issues). And this is to our shame.
There is a passage in the Bible that clearly shows the importance of doctrine and unconditional love. In the Book of Acts the Apostle Paul is leaving the church in Ephesus and meets with the elders of the church. He shares much doctrine and then prays and then all the elders weep, holding onto Paul and grieving his leaving. Why were they weeping? Because he shared cold, straightforward, pure doctrine whenever they had met? Or could it be that besides sharing doctrine he loved each of them deeply and had shared his live with them, and that he with them were a community of love.
I tend to believe their weeping had more to do with love then facts.