Recently, some of the blogs that I have read are abuzz with much vitriolic activity. Whether the issue is dealing with “tithing”, or “labeling”, “settled truth”, or “whether or not a Baptist seminary should fire a professor for his beliefs and teachings,” the actual result in all of this “marketplace of ideas” as some like to think of it, is that absolute confusion abounds for new believers in Christ Jesus.
Who is telling THE truth?
Should a pastor preach and teach his congregation to tithe? Some people say emphatically no, some people say emphatically yes?
Is a “mega church” pastor at fault for being a “mega church” pastor? As though “mega churches” are evil in and of themselves, and pastors who lead them are all money mongoring monsters. Or are these just churches that the Lord grew, and their budgets grew, and their needs grew and the church counts worthy of “double honor those who labor in the word.” (I am a small church pastor by the way.) Once a church is a certain size, should it stop receiving people, because it might get too big, and so the cost of ministering to those people, could be spent ministering to other people instead?
Should a Seminary that has a professor, who is teaching something that is not true be allowed to continue to teach in that seminary? (The answer to which I think and say this solemnly, yes. A universtity would not retain a math teacher who taught that 3 x 3 was 9.275. A hospital would not allow a doctor to continue practicing through them who prescribed cyanide for headaches. A high school would not allow a science teacher to stay who taught that the moon really was made out of cheese. Why then should a seminary keep a theologian who taught something contrary to the scriptures? They shouldn’t.)
Are people who insist that what they are teaching are not matters of interpretation, but matters of actual truth “idealogues,” or “fundamentalists?”
These are just some of the issues that I have heard debated, and discussed, and in some cases participated in. To make matters worse, much of the back and forth discussions are filled with barbs, insults, name calling, and outright denegrading disrespect. Which has no place coming out of the mouth, (or keyboard) of any of us who name the name of Jesus Christ.
The fact is that there is nothing about this “confusion” that is healthy or good. We all know that “God is not the author of confusion.” What some want to call “healthy debate” is really just a “stirring of the waters” and “stoking of the fires.” There is a place for “iron sharpening iron” but throwing lead weighted words at each other is not iron sharpening iron, it is pride pounding pride. Proverbs 13:10, ” . . . by pride cometh contention.” James 3:16, by ” . . . strife there is confusion.” Contention and Confusion are the right and left hand of the pride filled heart. That being said, those who come with the Mind of Certainty, must also come with the heart of humility.
As pastors, leaders, and Bible students, we have been instructed to “rightly divide the word of truth.” And if I were writing to new converts there would be some obversations that I would explain to them.
1st. – Within Christianity there is strong disagreement over what issues are Primary, and what issues are “Tertiary”. In other words, what issues are “hills to die on” when it comes time to draw the lines in the sand? (Which I believe to be the line of truth . . .)
2nd – Some within Christianity believe that no Christians have “settled truth” on some issues that they believe to be “tertiary”, or “secondary”; and if they say they do, they are “idealogues” or “fundamentals”. They believe that the best you can do on any matter is have what is “your interpretation of scripture” but not the final, settled truth.
3rd – Some within Christianity believe that all “points of view” should be tolerated and validated for the sake of cooperation.
Understanding that, Adrian Rogers, the great Baptist Statesman said, “It is better to be divided by the truth, than united in a lie.” Some have elevated “cooperation” with one another to a higher purpose than “preaching the truth.” Now understand that we must work together in order to even be in obedience to the New Testament. We never though work together outside the boundaries of revealed and settled truth.
For example: Let’s take the issue of Baptism. The Bible makes it plain and clear that Baptism must have 1.) the right person – saved; 2.) the right medium – water 3.) the right method – immersion; 4.) the right authority – the church. – Any thing other than that does not rise to the level of Bible baptism, and it would be patently foolish and arrogant to acknowledge someone as Biblically baptized who has not been Biblically baptized. Now back to the example, this is the reason most Missionary Baptists, and a lot of Southern Baptists, do not accept or acknowledge “Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic etc.” as Baptized believers. Now no one is saying that they are not saved. But baptism any other way than the Bible depicts is not true baptism. We cannot use God’s words and our own dictionaries.
Know this though: while there is much confusion, there is still much certainty. There is a Doctrinal Certainty that can be held, and it is not “arrogant ideology” to say that. As sure as night follows day, and as certain as yesterday’s news, you can know, K , N, O, W, the truths that are revealed within the scriptures.
You can know the truths about Tithing(Giving), Baptism, The New Testament Church, Grace, Love, Atonement, Security of Salvation, how the Holy Spirit functions on earth today, Mission Work, Proper Cooperation and so much more. I don’t want to leave you with the wrong idea, there are some things that our imperfect beings have imperfect knowledge in, and we must always be willing to concede such, and admit such. What is at issue for many is just exactly what those areas are.
While Confusion, and Contention abounds, Certainty is Certainly available, and Certainty is most certainly needed more and more in this chaotic world. God is not the author of concusion, and His Spirit and His Word will illuminate His Truth for those who genuinely want to find it. Living a life with certain truth would be a wonderful change worth making.