What Love Truly Demands
It is true that none of us is perfect. We each have our faults and errors.
My own experience has made that abundantly clear over the years. On a daily basis.
But, despite our failures, we are not given the right to remain silent when error threatens the church. We are still duty-bound to both keep and defend the Lord’s word.
The popular wisdom is that we should not criticize others since we also are most likely open to criticism. Which sounds like wise counsel.
But that popular practice is in direct contradiction to what the Bible actually says we should do. In fact, in contradiction to what the Bible repeatedly commands us to do.
For example, Paul declared that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3:16,17)
Reproof and correction are not applied in some silent, solitary environment. They require an open, verbal, and even written process. Private reproof is certainly preferable, when possible; but, unfortunately, the boldness and arrogance of leaders often requires a public rebuke.
Especially when those who teach error often have a wide following of Christians who need to be warned of the dangers. A warning which, hopefully, allows for the correction to reach as many of the people that have been affected as possible.
So that all those who have been looking to these leaders for guidance may become aware of the errors — in order to avoid them.
The Gospel is Specific
This is not simply about men taking a different view. About some diversity of “faith”. About tolerance for differing opinions on theology. About people with different “faith traditions”.
This is not simply an argument over trivial matters. Over things which we may “agree to disagree” upon.
Because, the gospel is based upon absolute doctrinal foundations. Upon faith in specific words which God has written and preserved.
The gospel is based upon a foundation that must not be compromised.
When all else may be unclear in this Christian culture, the words of God must never be handled deceitfully, or trivially, or with some sentimental, humanistic liberality. Or with the cavalier attitudes of those who believe themselves to be on a higher intellectual plane than the rest of us poor, dumb Christians.
Leaders, who, because of their high academic status and their respectability within the seminary, university or think-tank fellowships, believe that they have achieved some special right or knowledge to re-interpret, re-word, or re-vise the doctrines of the faith.
No such status exists. No special “high-priest” class exists in this dispensation. We are each bound by the final authority of the word of God alone.
Which means that all traditions or trends of interpretation must be subservient to the clear, simple authority of the words of God.
And that the words of truth are non-negotiable.
Count the Cost
The scriptures are not open to trimming out or re-interpretation when the intellectuals or the academics or the elites do not like to teach the unpopular gospel. When they find it too hard to accept the criticism or scorn of the religious and secular world. When they are uncomfortable with losing their popularity or support.
Or when people criticize their lack of “intellectualism”. When the academic or scientific community calls them, “stupid”, “ignorant”, or “provincial”.
When it just gets too hot in the kitchen.
Because, regardless of what popular leaders pretend to be, they, like each of us, must believe what God has said and then stand upon it.
Otherwise, what gospel do they really believe? And what gospel are they really preaching?
“But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (I Peter 1:25)
A Concluding Note
It is my hope that each of the men mentioned in this series of posts will repent of their errors and let people know clearly of their change of heart. When men of such fame and popularity teach such errors publicly, they deserve to be rebuked publicly, as the Bible commands.
This is done for the sake of all who follow them as well as for their own sakes.
And, if they do make that change, then it is also our duty to help them by publicly acknowledging their change of heart.