This past year has seen much controversy in the Church. From Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins, to Jefferson Bethke’s viral video, Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus, to Pastor Mark Driscoll’s latest book, Real Marriage. Some of the reviews and blogs I’ve read have been fair, charitable, and accurate. Some have driven me to the point of absolute frustration, wondering what non-Christians think of such hostility toward a fellow Christian.
There are absolutely primary issues that should be contended for vehemently, and ideas that are to be attacked violently. But, we have to remember to attack the idea, not the person. Because if that person is in Christ, we are attacking our own family, we are attacking a brother or sister in Christ. While there are indeed doctrines that need to be believed in order to truly claim the Christ of the Scriptures as Lord and Savior, we should be very cautious in saying a person has rejected orthodoxy until there is much effort put forth to speak truth into the life of this person, whether that be through loving conversation or honest debate WITH THE PERSON (not just random venting on a blog that person won’t even read) we feel has rejected orthodoxy. After all, we have one Savior, who saves us from a myriad of sins.
We should absolutely defend truth and the gospel. There are times when we must, as a last resort, throw the wolves out of the church, in effort to win them for the sake of the gospel. But shouldn’t there be a measure of grace for those who are honestly trying to proclaim Christ as Lord and Savior even though we feel they miss the mark on some points? While the method and the message are ultimately important, doesn’t God give us the grace to “do it wrong”, knowing that if Christ is proclaimed that the gospel contains the power to redeem our wrong message and method?
We should indeed aim to be one who is “rightly handling the word of truth.” Isn’t this more than just right doctrine? Isn’t it also right practice? Doesn’t “right handling” also lend toward giving grace to those who disagree with us in matters of doctrine?