An agnostic is “a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality is unknown and probably unknowable” (MW). Generally, the concept is applied to the existence of God. But the current time, sadly, requires us to slightly extend the term to “a person who holds the view that any ultimate doctrinal reality is unknown and probably unknowable.”
Second Timothy 1:13 commands, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me….” To “hold” is to keep or to preserve. The term “pattern” refers to a standard, and “sound words” references correct, true, or healthy teaching. Thus, Timothy’s responsibility was to keep tightly the standard of correct teaching. Certainly, no ambiguity exists in the imperative. Timothy knew exactly what the “standard” was, otherwise how could he have kept it? Consider 1 Timothy 1:3-7 as a commentary. There were some in Ephesus who had turned to “idle talk”due to their devotion to “fables and endless genealogies.” Such individuals fancied themselves scholars but understood neither what they said nor the things which they affirmed. Consequently, they promoted speculation and turned people away from Christ. Timothy’s responsibility was to “charge” them to “teach no other doctrine.” He was to hold up sound doctrine (1 Tim. 1:10) against unsound doctrine in such a clear fashion that all could see the contrast between the two. Timothy knew the correct doctrine, and he was to “command and teach” (1 Tim. 4:11) that doctrine to the church at Ephesus.
Paul’s instruction to Timothy presents a glaring contrast to some current sentiments within our brotherhood. Statements like “I’ve never been to Heaven so I can’t say for sure what it’s like,” or “The Bible doesn’t explicitly condemn social drinking so I can’t say its sinful,” or “The Holy Spirit must do something!,” mimic the trouble makers in ancient Ephesus. A kind of doctrinal agnosticism has emerged among us in which everything is a question with no clear answer, and every disagreement is added to a growing list of open ended doctrinal questions about which the Bible is just not clear enough for us to reach any definite conclusion.
Certainly, there are some subjects and passages that are difficult to understand and thus forbid dogmatism, and there are matters of judgment and room for disagreement and difference in some things. But, that is not the case in all things, and perhaps not as many things as some would suggest.