It has been said by some, particularly those who would denigrate the need for theology and prepositional claims of truth, that Christians do not die for a set of doctrines but for a person; Jesus Christ. There is a side to that which is correct. But this is, by no means, completely accurate from either a biblical or historical perspective. In 2 Timothy 1:8-14 Paul affirms that the gospel, the message of salvation based on historical facts, is worth dying for. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is based on facts about what He did and who He is as revealed in the Bible. This is theology, doctrine, whatever you want to call it. In 2 Timothy 3, Paul reminds his protégé that the key to standing firm in the face of persecution is holding to solid teaching, not just drawing close to Jesus. Relationship with Christ is important (no question there) but it cannot be separated from doctrine, regardless of what some would tell you today. People will die for what they believe in. They will not die for what they have doubts about.
I say this because there are those today who, in matters of Christian faith, confuse humility with uncertainty and conviction with close-mindedness. We fear being rigid more than we fear being wrong. We give the impression that doctrine doesn't really matter. "Just as long as we all love Jesus," is the joyful cry.
The problem is, as I read some of the writings of some of today's most popular teachers, that I am not sure that they are worshipping the same Jesus as I am. They seem so fuzzy about the content of who He is and what He has done. We do need to be reminded that just believing in "Jesus" is hardly sufficient (c.f. Galatians 1:6-10). The gospel, as Paul reminds us, has content as to who He is and what He has done. Get it wrong and you are condemned (Galatians 1:10)
As we look at the testimonies of the martyrs throughout the centuries, it is also obvious that they were prepared to die for what they believed in, not just whom they believed in. Relationship is based on knowledge.
One thing is certain; no one will die for something that they are not sure about. Given that, the new emergent call for inclusiveness, dialogue and theological "humility" cuts to the core of Jesus' call to take up the cross and follow Him regardless of the cost.
More thoughts on this later....