Friday, July 20, 2007

Theology MATTERS - Believers with differing views, nothing "personal" but...

When I first posted last week on limited/definite atonement I did so knowing that it is a difficult and unpopular position in many Xian circles--remember I didn't come to this position easily or quickly either! I posted (and will continue to post) because I remember how I labored over the matter and how it fit, or didn't fit, with the view of God I'd held for many years (as a believer and an unbeliever). So I was delighted to read the following statement by Gary Long in the Preface of his book "Definite Atonement" (emphasis mine),
"It is also the earnest desire of the writer that the reader should understand that the author's opposition to the doctrine of indefinite atonement is a doctrinal issue and not a personal attack upon those who espouse indefinite atonement. Every born again believer should be ready to have his theological views judged by Scripture without taking personal affront. Therefore, a distinction must be made between the errors propounded by Christians and the Christians themselves. All that are within the circle of Christ's love must be within the circle of the Christian's love. To contend for doctrine in a manner which ignores this truth is a rending of the unity of the true Church, which is Christ's body, the elect of God."
So, how do/should we respond to fellow-believers whose views differ from ours?

Well, as long as the matter/issue is not an essential point of the gospel, we should "be ready" to have our "theological views judged by Scripture without taking personal affront". The absolute key point in this is that we let Scripture do the "talking", the convicting, AND the convincing for us--we also let Scripture do the "arguing" for us.

Hopefully, if you and I differ on some point of theology we both will be challenged to search and consider Scripture with the individual desire and goal of better knowing God as He has revealed Himself there. This assumes humility on both our parts, knowing that we both can't be right, therefore one or both of us must be wrong.

We can however rest assured that God is able to mold and conform us--in His time, according to His purposes as we "...contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints..." Jude 1:3


Marcian said...

Some might question this, but I personally believe that some of us may hold opposing views on this which the Lord will never iron out through His Spirit, so that He may be glorified. We are given a chance to show each other charity and love, which is something that Jesus said would be a mark identifying us to others. Love is easy when we agree, but it's hard when we dont.

Just a thought.

(I'm not sure what he has to say about college Alumni, but it's probably similar. *grin*)

Connie said...

I would agree with that, and would call it "sanctification"!!!!

I hope I did not imply that there would always be a resolution to our differences, just that Long makes a good point that we need to put forth some effort and proceed with humility in matters that are not as clear-cut as we might prefer.

College alma maters excluded--that's pretty cut and dried in my books!! Ha!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing this; it is so important especially in our day. I have an 18 year old son who will be heading for college in a couple of weeks. We have been talking about this with him a lot lately so he is not surprised by the things that will come up on his college campus. God Bless.