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Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God (9Marks Building Healthy Churches) Hardcover – April 30, 2013
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“Scripture is for sound doctrine, sound doctrine is for real life, and real life is for real church growth. So says Jamieson, and he hits the nail on the head brilliantly every time.”
—J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College
“‘Pay heed to your doctrine.’ That imperative for faithful Christianity sounds to many Christians altogether abstract and remote from the life of the church. Bobby Jamieson believes otherwise, and Sound Doctrine is a masterful argument for doctrine that is not only deeply rooted in the church, but also produces a church that demonstrates both the grace and glory of God.”
—R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“A true Christian experience involves more than sound doctrine, but it is nothing without it. Bobby helps us see how sound doctrine not only shapes but also empowers all ministries in the local church, from effective outreach to authentic small groups. This book could serve as a starting point for thinking through a philosophy of ministry.”
—J. D. Greear, Pastor, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; author, Not God Enough and Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart
“Truth is for life. Teaching is for living. Sound doctrine is for love, unity, worship, witness, and joy. That is what this book is all about. Christians need to understand how sound biblical teaching—doctrine that is based on and drawn from the Holy Scriptures—informs every aspect of Christian life and experience. Bobby Jamieson makes that case in Sound Doctrine. The argument is brief, biblical, interesting, and compelling. The book won’t take you long to read, but its contents will pay dividends to Christians and churches for a long time to come.”
—J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor, CEO, and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
“I sit next to Bobby Jamieson in a seminary class, so I can tell you that he is a very smart guy, a genuine nerd, theologically discerning, and—surprisingly—an avid surfer. Prior to my conversion, I sat next to smart guys like Bobby in order to cheat, but now I do it to learn—and there’s a lot to learn from Bobby! If you don’t understand why sound doctrine is important, or realize the difference it can make, then Bobby has something to teach you. In this book you’ll learn that sound doctrine is as delightful as it is practical—for everyday life and for the church. Come sit next to Bobby with me.”
—C.J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville
“Think doctrine is at least impractical—at worst, loveless? Give this author a few minutes to help you reconsider this. Well-written, precise, provocative, and practical—Jamieson has produced a jewel.”
—Mark Dever, Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; President, 9Marks
“Doctrine that is biblically faithful and practically relevant is essential to the health and life of the church. Without it, churches will become anemic and eventually die. Sound Doctrine is a short primer on the key doctrines of holiness, love, unity, worship, and witness. In a careful and well-written treatise, Bobby Jamieson walks us through these crucial doctrines, revealing their importance to our mind and heart—to our individual lives and the community of faith.”
—Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
“If ever you’ve been tempted to think that doctrine is boring, divisive, or just plain pointless, this is a book for you. Bobby Jamieson shows that sound doctrine is beautiful, life imparting, and deeply desirable. I hope this message goes far and wide.”
—Michael Reeves, president and professor of theology, Union School of Theology
About the Author
Bobby Jamieson is a PhD candidate in New Testament and affiliated lecturer in New Testament Greek at the University of Cambridge. He previously served as assistant editor for 9Marks. Jamieson lives in Cambridge, England, with his wife and three children and is a member of Eden Baptist Church.
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Top customer reviews
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His focus is knowing and applying biblical doctrine for teaching & reading the Bible, for holiness, for love, for church unity, for congregational worship and for the church's witness. The only thing that I had wished for was a longer book which would have included this important areas but would have put that within an applicable overarching ecclesiology about how doctrine is for seeing ourselves as the body of Christ, for what it means that Jesus is the head of the church, for understanding the role of the Holy Spirit in the church's life and ministry, etc.
It is a very well and easy to understand book as well as rather short. It is among only 5 books that I know of that address church health from a theological and/or biblical point of view. Not enough people are writing about this or asking what does the Bible and sound doctrine have to do with being a healthy church. One would think this would be a no-brainer, but from looking at the vast market of books on church health, this subject is grossly overlooked.
This book is a must to your library, I recommend it to be in the hands of your pastor.
Every pastor needs to be armed strongly with the word of God. This is a small book but, is pack with Power.
The Music of Sound Doctrine
Likewise, a church who holds to sound doctrine has power to stir people. But holding to sound doctrine requires reading the sheet music of scripture accurately. We must play the notes and follow the clear signals that the Lord gives as He instructs us according to His will. When a church holds to sound doctrine, the sheet music of scripture meets with the dance of the church; there exists harmony.
The mutual harmony between scripture and the church produces love and holiness. Bobby Jamieson, Assistant Editor for 9Marks, Managing Editor of the 9Marks Journal and author of the most recent book in the 9Marks Building Healthy Churches series, Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God envisions a church that dances to the music of sound doctrine. Why? Because "sound doctrine is essential for living godly lives and building healthy churches...sound doctrine is for life - the life of the church." (13)
Do you agree? Is sound doctrine essential to your godly living? Does your church dance to the music of sound doctrine? Arguably many individuals and churches function as if sound doctrine is not all that important. Disagree? Well, test my theory.
If you ever played for a school band you would know that every musician undergoes testing. They have to play their scales. This determines where they sit in the orchestra. Here is a test to discover where you sit in respect to appreciating sound doctrine. I encourage you to administer this test to friends at church as well.
Be honest. What drew you to your church? What do you tell others about your church? Does sound doctrine get a mention? Here are three guesses at a typical response.
"Well, I really love the worship!"
"We really connected with our small group/Sunday School Class."
"We came here for the children's/youth program. It's really good."
It is rare to hear that people attend a church for its sound doctrine - though I have heard some say as much, which is encouraging. Reading the sheet music of scripture accurately produces the music of sound doctrine, leading to dance. I hope Jamieson's book, Sound Doctrine, blesses the church and stirs her to dance to the music of sound doctrine.
Sound Doctrine approaches the topic not by telling us what is sound doctrine, there are plenty of books that do so; I'm sure Jamieson could recommend a few. No. Sound Doctrine attaches its message to our need. We need Sound Doctrine. Jamieson develops a crescendo all the way through as he argues for our need of sound doctrine. Though belaboring the point in a few places, the need is effectively established. Jamieson begins by asserting sound doctrine is for the church - the life of the church. He then conveys sound doctrine as essential for reading and teaching scripture. He follows by exhibiting sound doctrine as leading to holiness, love, unity, worship and witness.
Reading Scripture's Sheet Music
Chapter 2 gives the core argument for sound doctrine. Here we learn how to read the sheet music of scripture. Jamieson masterfully surveys the purpose of the Bible and our part in its story. The Bible is revelation, a story that preaches a message and an instrument for God's redemptive work. We need to read it as a single story, as a biblical theology.
"The goal in all this is to understand the Bible's single, unified story. Sometimes theologians call this kind of reading `Biblical Theology" - theology traces out the development of the progressively unfolding revelation of God in Scripture." (35)
We must see Scripture as the Word of God, carefully learn the whole story, and allow scripture to interpret scripture. Many isolate doctrines from one another; many develop pet doctrines that consume all of study. This leads to a narrow or skewed view of God's character. We see a single facet rather than the multi-faceted nature of God. When we study the all-encompassing story of scripture, not isolating any of its parts, we discover an unbound and all-encompassing God. We see all of God from all of scripture. In discovering all of God, all our short-comings are laid bare.
"And sound doctrine gives us the big picture: a wide-angle view of who God is, who we are, and how God is working out salvation for those who trust in Christ...A balanced diet of sound doctrine can expose and defuse our unbiblical thoughts and attitudes that would otherwise go undetected." (40)
Dancing to Scripture's Sheet Music
Chapters 3-7 instruct us to the dance accurately read scripture produces. Reading and teaching scripture accurately drives the practices of holiness, love, unity, worship and witness. We should speculate that when these attributes do not exist, perhaps sound doctrine is not practiced.
Holiness hinges on comprehending the doctrine of sin. Love is rooted in many doctrines: God, man, providence, redemption. Unity is bound by the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Sound doctrine fuels the fire of worship - giving God His due glory and prepares us for gospel witness.
I celebrated how Jamieson rooted unity in the gospel. All humanity stands on the same ground as sinners awaiting a savior - as helpless hoping for the Holy Spirit's help. I loved how Jamieson compares sound doctrine to practice and witness to performance. I agree with him. When we soak in gospel doctrine, performing evangelism becomes second nature. We will comfortably share the gospel.
There is much to appreciate from Sound Doctrine by Bobby Jamieson. This book establishes our sound doctrine need. Jamieson comes across not as an obstinate and rigid doctrine hall monitor but as a masterful orchestra conductor guiding us through the movements of the most enchanting sheet music - Scripture. As a fun read, Sound Doctrine keeps our attention; it stirs us to dance to the music sound doctrine produces.
Purchase Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God by Bobby Jamieson at the Westminster Bookstore or Amazon. The publisher offered me this book in exchange for an honest review. Read more book reviews at jtcochran.com.
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