Indeed, the word doctrine, a word fallen on hard times in contemporary culture, actually means “a healing teaching,” from the French word for doctor. The creeds, as doctrinal statements, were intended as healing instruments, life-giving words that would draw God’s people into a deeper engagement with divine things. When creeds become fences to mark the borders of heresy, they lose their spiritual energy. Doctrine is to be the balm of a healing experience of God, not a theological scalpel to wound and exclude people. [Diana Butler Bass, Christianity after Religion]

I say, “Amen!” to that. Too often we use creeds and confessions for drawing boundary lines and deciding who is in and who is out rather than as a healing balm to draw people to God. Maybe if we used them in a healing way the word doctrine [and the doctrines themselves!] would find more hospitality among us.

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