Ongoing controversies over the nature of the Atonement (substitutionary or Christus Victor?), the historical Adam (creation or evolution?), the afterlife (heaven and hell or universalism?), the nature of the authority of Scripture ("inerrant" or "infallible" or "trustworthy"?)—among other debates—show how relevant doctrine remains. But the debates also reveal how confused many Christians are about the basic truths of the faith, a confusion that will worsen if we don't respond to two pressing realities.
First is an increasingly post-Christian world. The rich ideas contained in words like creation and fall, judgment and forgiveness, grace and obedience, crucifixion and resurrection, church, final judgment, and Trinity are little known to most people. In fact, many outside and inside the church are either hostile to traditional Christian teachings or mix belief systems, religious and not, to create their own.
Second is the challenge of internet technology. Secular and pluralistic worldviews were prevalent before the Internet, of course, but now every idea and worldview, every philosophy and religion is a click away. We are electronic neighbors with atheists and theists, Hindus and Muslims, terrorists and pacifists, secularists and agnostics, New Agers and rationalists. Every idea imaginable is now at the fingertips of every Christian who has internet access. The average Christian toys with an unprecedented range of ideas today, arguably more ideas and worldviews than did Augustine, Calvin, Cranmer, and Wesley. Needless to say, encounters with our electronic neighbors are both fascinating and bewildering.
Add to this the ongoing need to grow "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13, ESV), ...