Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fighting Clean

I don't like arguing over doctrine, although sometimes it is necessary. I also think it is important to distinguish between central core truths where a clear stand must be taken and things more to the periphery where differences are less important. But when we do argue it is best to do it with charity and humility. From Justin Neely at The Resurgance, comes this advice on How to Fight Clean Over Doctrine.
How about we just find a way to “fight clean” over doctrine? Consider these suggestions:

1. Keep the cross at the center of your theological system.

I have found it impossible to look up to Jesus and then down my nose at a brother or sister with whom I disagree. A cross-centered theology reminds us to keep the "main thing" and serves as a helpful compass to navigate the landscape of lesser issues. It also helps us see how much we actually do have in common and what serves as the source of unity and hope. When the gospel is at the center, everything else becomes appropriately resized.

2. Ask yourself some uncomfortable questions.

We would all like to assume that we are as cool as ice when the differences hit the fan, but is that really the case? What posture do you take in a doctrinal discussion? Do you become agitated? Do you raise your voice? How would your wife or those closest to you people describe you during these situations? Ask them. Their answers may surprise you.

3. Remember that you probably held the other position not long ago.

Nearly every pastor/theologian I know is continually refining their theology. Sure, we have the "big things" down, but some theological shifting is natural as we learn, grow, and age. And when it comes to the doctrines of grace, it is likely that you haven't always stood where you stand now, and the way you present certain ideas has a lot to do with how they are received. So don't be an "angry Calvinist," since there are enough of them out there already.

4. Pursue humility with the same passion that you pursue clarity.

This may be the most difficult but necessary pursuit of all. The last thing we want to become is people who both disagree and are disagreeable. I believe humility is the antidote to this ailment. If you spend a lot of time studying, also spend a lot of time in prayer and in Philippians 2. As we see the great humility of Jesus, the Spirit will cultivate greater humility in us as well.