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"Elementary" Doctrines?

In response to a request for more information on "the elementary teachings" of Heb 6, by Dean VanDruff.

Heb 5:12-6:3 (NIV) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

If I count correctly, there are six "not laying again..." doctrines listed. If you include the leading "about Christ" it would be seven. We originally set out to cover each of these, and did directly on some and tangentially on others, but never made a "series" out of them as planned.

For what was elementary 2000 years ago turns out to be somewhat difficult to teach on as simple among modern professing Christians. Satan has attacked each of these for 2000 years, and what was once elementary now looks like a battle-field strewn with dead bodies, scorched earth, twisted history and propaganda all around. The effect of this is that:

  1. Repentance is thought by most to be flesh-oriented "trying to do good" by mere human religious energy, for example; and to teach clearly about what repentance really is seems outrageous and "deep".
  2. Faith has been bludgeoned beyond recognition by so-called "faith teaching", and even people not swayed by this often think faith has more to do with deluding oneself rather than "substance" and "evidence".
  3. Baptisms (plural) have also become a divisive issue: ignoring Spirit baptism, assuming non-qualified New Testament references to baptism refer to John's water baptism rather than Jesus' Spirit baptism, grueling linguistic arguments over sprinkling or not; in the name of Jesus or the Trinity, etc. <sigh>
  4. Laying on of hands--hey, none of that charismatic stuff in our church!
  5. Resurrection is rare--out of this list--in being reasonably understood in truth after 2000 years, where few Christians are confused about it, thank God.
  6. Eternal judgment survived until about 20 years ago, when it was chased out of the church as being "hell-fire and brimstone" preaching. Now to speak of eternal judgment as fundamental and essential--the one sure prophecy and the single most important thing about a person's future--seems scandalous.

Thus, what appeared a simple grouping of "foundational" ideas turned out to be a quagmire of confusion, dissention, and false doctrine. Still, we labor to get these things right ourselves, live them out, and then teach others as the Lord permits.

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