I’m finishing up on prep work for this morning’s festivities at Calvary Chapel on the Lakeshore, studying the last half of Luke 9, and I run across this gem from David Guzik:

Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side: Jesus taught them to have a more generous spirit. There are many that are wrong in some aspect of their presentation or teaching, yet they still set forth Jesus in some manner. Let God deal with them. Those who are not against a Biblical Jesus are still on our side, at least in some way.

  • Paul saw many men preaching Christ from many motives, some of them evil – yet he could rejoice that Christ was being preached (Philippians 1:15-18).

Wow…

Asking hard questions – even vigorously debating – is important for the ongoing development of your understanding of doctrine.

I’d earlier read this on Dr. James White’s blog:

“A debate is a conflict which clarifies a position. A dialogue is a conversation which compromises a position.”
John E. Ashbrook, The New Neutralism II

Amen.

And very relevant given today’s church’s penchant for “dialogue” that leads to precisely nowhere. (BTW, I agree with White – I also need to get that book.) We must contend earnestly for the faith once for all given – that’s a command, not a suggestion that can be ignored  because we want our Orthodoxy to be Generous so that Everything Must Change along with the Hidden Message Of Jesus – who it turns out is the penultimate Velvet Elvis.

Ahem.

Given that, there are debates that are “in-house,” and debates that are “outside the family.” And we need to keep the distinction in mind.

When it comes to intramural debate, we need to remember that we’re contending with our brethren, who we might not agree with on all (or even most) particulars, and who love the same Jesus of the Bible that we do. Definitely, debate; that’s how we refine our understanding of the Word – when our views & stances are challenged.

Yes, definitely debate…but never demonize.

Those who stand on the core orthodoxy of Scripture, though they’re wacked in every other point, are still our brethren.

People can be confused about

  • The timing of the Rapture
  • If there’s even going to be a Rapture
  • The timing of the Millennium
  • The structure of church government
  • Egalitarianism vs. complementarianism
  • The Gifts of the Spirit
  • Bible versions
  • The place – and the extent of the place – of psychology’s legitimate insights
  • Political leanings
  • Modes of baptism
  • etc.

…and a host of other issues, and still be our brethren.

It’s those core, “first-order” doctrines that define the border between the Kingdom of God and all else, and they all revolve around the Person and Work of Jesus:

  • His full Deity
  • His full Humanity
  • The fact that His two natures aren’t in any way mingled
  • The fact that His Person is in no way divided
  • The Triune Godhead
  • Jesus’ death, burial, bodily resurrection & ascension
  • His impending return
  • Salvation by grace alone through faith alone
  • etc.

That’s something I need to keep in mind – I’m by nature a doctrinaire, an ideologue.

So it’s of vital importance to keep in mind the distinction between an in-house debate and an outside-the-family debate.

In the former, we’re vigorously dialoguing with another brother over important-albeit-secondary issues of the Faith; in the latter, we’re contending earnestly with unbelievers over the very heart of that Faith, with the goal not of bludgeoning them with the Truth, but of being used as instruments of the Spirit in convicting them of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.

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