Is right doctrine an indispensible aspect of saving faith or not?
From time to time the knowledge of orthodox doctrine for salvation is criticised along the lines of "we are not justified by knowing about justification," or "we are not saved by right ideas." We are saved by Christ not doctrine. And stated like that who could disagree?
But this is a criticism that should not get a free pass. It is not the trump card that it is alleged to be.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is the object of saving faith. But the Christ who saves us is never an "uninterpreted Christ." He is either rightly interpreted or wrongly interpreted. A false faith would be faith placed in a wrongly interpreteted Christ. Isn't that Paul's point about the super apostles in 2 Corinthians 11? They preached "another Jesus."
2. By a rightly "interpreted Christ" I mean that the Christ of the Bible and the apostles' proclamation is never separated for faith from what God has said about him (his person and his work).
3. Take away God's interpretation of Christ from our experience of him and you are left with either a mystical Christ, of whom we know nothing and whose name serves merely as a religious word, or a false Christ (and there are many in history who have fitted this description).
Detach right ideas from Christ and his work and you are left either with nothing, or with a false Christ. There is no uninterpreted Christ. We need God's explanation of him in order for us to call on him. And isn't that Paul's point in Romans 10?
Bavinck put it this way:
"Scripture does not give us data to interpret; it is itself the interpretation of reality, the shaper of a distinctive worldview."
Prolegomena, p. 354