Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
On the Necessity and Beauty of Godly Conflict
08/03/2005 - James WhiteGuest blogger Eddie Exposito provides some thoughts while I prepare to head to the Deep South...
When you find someone who agrees with you on every point of doctrine, polity, and practice you must either be gazing into your bedroom mirror or having fellowship with a politician, for the truth of the matter is, we do disagree. Now don't feel compelled to call up Oprah and bishop Spong to notify them that the Sola Scriptura police have now confessed division and disagreement and have admitted to the ruin of their proposed perspicuity. And this does not mean that our foundations for certainty have been eroded leaving us to seek out the Jesus consciousness in a lotus position while playing forty-two choruses of "We shall overcome" during a can't-we-all-get-along ecumeni-fest sponsored by Live9.
What our disagreements do tell us, however, is that we are constantly learning. As Proverbs 27:17 tells us "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." Conflict and confrontation are good things when exercised with humility and deference. What needs to end are the vacuous notions that the mere presence of a difference in opinion constitutes a sufficient depth-charge to certainty and the cry that the challenging of published thought is meanness. Being wrong exists because the laws of logic exist and it is through a vigorous and thorough dispute that the soundness of a position is proven. Shaking the pan yields the gems.
I remember a few years back when I attended a mini-conference where R.C. Sproul was asked about his relationship with John MacArthur. These two well-known bible teachers have been good friends for quite some time despite their coming to some very different theological positions. Sproul said that what keeps their friendship thriving is that their doctrinal disputes do not live in ad hominems or a failure to concede to a particular point. What sustains their bond is their choice to love each other as the Lord has commanded and to equally love what He has said, His holy Word. Their differences are motivated by an unending desire to be right, not for the sake of personal gain, but for the glory of the One who is right. One's adherence to doctrinal truth can be seen in how close to the Scriptural mat they wrestle. Those who scream and kick the loudest hardly gear up let alone see canvas, and to actually go to the mat for truth means that one must actually believe that it exists lest we become circular Voltaireans chanting "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one." (Voltaire, Letter to Frederick the Great, 1767.)
Fidelity to Scripture must be a believer's plum as Christ is the never-moving cornerstone. Since a misrepresentation of theopneustos represents a divine slander it is both loving to correct those who have strayed into shadow and wise to accept that the line truly exists. All other hope is sinking sand.