Kevin DeYoung recently posted on his blog about the important and perplexing issue of unity & truth, which inspired me to get some thoughts down that have been rattling around my head for some time.
I know a great many Christians who forsake truth in order to avoid being divisive.
“We mustn’t be divisive,” some say. “We don’t know the whole story.”
“It’s not very loving to say someone’s wrong, is it?”
“Can’t we all just get along?”
Before I go too much farther, I want to clarify something important: In any situation, it’s critical to understand as much as we can about the ideas, opinions and theology espoused by others, and their context. This can avoid a lot of unnecessary fighting.
What I’m talking about is failing to confront serious, doctrinal error on major issues (such as original sin, the Trinity, salvation by grace through faith alone, the resurrection and the virgin birth). I’m talking about pastors failing to guard the gate and protect their people.
I think this problem exists for two reasons:
- Many Christians don’t know their Bibles as well as they ought, and because of this have failed to cultivate the discipline of discernment (which is different than the spiritual gift). And because they neither have a strong understanding of Scripture, nor exercise discernment, they are easily confused. They simply don’t have the capacity to determine is something is correct or not.
- Many pastors are cowards. This is a very harsh statement, but I truly do not know a better way to say it. If any man won’t stand up for the things he believes, nor protect his family, he is a coward.
I want to make something abundantly clear: I love pastors in general and my pastors in particular. They have a hard job and hard choices to make every day. But it kills me when I see people running around confused about issues that they need not be confused about, and reading books & listening to teachers that they would do well to not listen to.
All for the sake of “unity.”
There are some things we don’t need to go to war over: Eschatology, method of baptism, speaking in tongues… these are family debates at best. Some may not even need to be a conversation at all. But when it comes to the finished work of Jesus, the nature of human sin, the character and nature of God, the supremacy of Scripture… These are the things we must contend for.
All for the sake of unity.