Correcting Error in the Church

Question from a Site Viewer
Shouldn’t we be correcting error in the church? Calvinism is error, yet most just ignore it. They do not take the time to correct the error. We need to purge the church of error and false teachings. We need to be faithful to God’s Word and to the truth. Error in the church should not and cannot be tolerated. As handlers of the Word, we need to be prepared to point out that which is a departure from truth.

Tim’s Answer
The instruction I read in dealing with those who differ with me is a call to be gentle and peaceable (2 Timothy 2:24-26; James 3:13-18). There is a wisdom that is pure and peaceable, and seeks to live in peace with even our enemies, while holding to the truth. Jesus taught us that the tares would be sown within the wheat and at the end the judge will separate. I realize the Paul rebuked Peter, but I struggle to find Paul telling us to have a ministry of rebuking. Rather, we are told in Galatians 6:1 how we are to respond to someone who has strayed. And it is with humility, patience, and love.

The danger I see is if we make it our mission to correct error in the church, then Satan will see that we stay fully occupied. He can always generate more error than we can ever get corrected. And we end up spending our lives causing disputes rather than godly edification (the building up of the church) (1 Timothy 1:3-7). Paul contrasts those who become obsessed with disputes and arguments (1 Timothy 6:3-5) with the pursuit of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness, and fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:11-12). The correction of error was not the thrust of Christ’s ministry (He came to seek and save the lost), nor the thrust of the apostles’ ministry (they sought to build up the church). Their letters, although at times warning of error, do not generally follow such warnings with a charge for the church to go out and rebuke those in error. And such rebukes seldom change the views of those in error in any case. The thrust of the instructional epistles for us is that we might live in fervent love for the brothers and sisters and keep our own hearts right before our God in worship and service. I try to keep the thrust of Scripture in mind as I seek to live out my life. That is what I think Tozer was meaning in his instruction on going to Seminary. We want to focus where Christ focuses and where Scripture focuses. There will always be error. We want to live life in such a way that people will have an opportunity to see truth lived out well. And if we do so, I believe we will have pleased God.

I say this, not to equate those who believe in Calvinism as false teachers. I do not believe this. I disagree with their interpretation, but I do so respectfully, acknowledging that there can be genuine disagreements among believers about how a passage should be interpreted. There are some who hold to Calvinism to such a degree and in such a way that I think they are false teachers; just as there are some who go so far in the opposite extreme to be Pelagians and also false teachers. But I acknowledge the work of God among those who differ with me on this issue.

My encouragement is to make Christ and His cross central in our passion, keeping our hearts warm towards Him, and forgiving towards others. And we pray that God may grant to others the ability to see the truth as we believe He has revealed it to us, or if we are wrong that He will be gracious to correct our thinking.

still learning,

tim

One thought on “Correcting Error in the Church

  1. Becky

    I really appreciate the tone of this article. It’s helpful to me in some things I’ve been thinking about recently. Thank you for posting it.

    Reply

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