Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Theological Depth Perception

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim 2:24-25).

A former professor of mine has dropped some worthwhile counsel on theological disagreement in a recent book review:
Within the broader evangelical community we should heed basic principles of respect and integrity. This especially applies when we offer critiques of views held by other believers. We may disagree with another Christian over the issues of cessation of the sign gifts, millennial views, rapture views, limited and unlimited atonement, etc., but there are certain things we should never be guilty of. This includes misrepresenting our opponent’s view with straw man arguments, using sarcastic and belittling language, and presenting our theological opponent in the worst light possible. This should be true even if our opponent does not always play by the rules. Responsible scholarship also entails putting theological issues into proper perspective. We need a ‘theological depth perception,’ a wisdom that allows us to discern issues that are at the core of Christianity and those issues that are important but are not salvation issues or threats to historic Christianity.

- Michael Vlach, "My Thoughts on Hank Hanegraaff’s Apocalypse Code"
Why is it that while defending "the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 3), the saints often treat each other like pagans? I have often been served and convicted by Paul's instruction to Timothy on dealing with troublesome teachers... "with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition."

Note well that it this defender of orthodoxy, the gentle and self-controlled, whom God uses to sovereignly draw their opponents to repentance. It is fitting that theological unity is never won by the fervor of an argument, but through the power of God's Word and the illuminating ministry of God's Spirit, that the glory may belong to Him alone.

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