Should Christians Argue About Theology?

Question from a Site Viewer
Christians seem to argue a lot about theology and doctrine. People get passionate about what they believe. Often the spirit of unity among believers seems to be lost in the desire to be “right” about a particular theological viewpoint. Should Christians argue so much about doctrine and theology? Is it worthwhile for the church to be splintered based on theological differences?

Tim’s Answer
Too often, Christians have defended their own particular view of “right” doctrine with wisdom that James would say is “earthly, sensual, and devilish” (James 3:15). It seems to us that to advance the great truths of Christ and the gospel using the devil’s wisdom somehow misses the point of the kingdom life. I cannot tell you how many books we have read from authors, theologians, and pastors where we find ourselves in some agreement with the basic doctrinal position but wondering if the author has any connection to the Spirit of God and the love, gentleness, and humility that marks the true disciple of Christ. When our love for doctrine supplants our love for people, we have crossed the line into the Pharisee heresy. Positions taken that generate strife and division within the body of Christ are not of God, at least that is how James puts it (James 3:16-18). Wisdom from heaven is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield to others, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy, and is sown in peace (James 3:17-18).

In a passage that I would like to see all pastors commit to memory and use as a basis for ministry, Paul tells young Timothy that the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all, apt to teach, patient, using gentleness to correct others, and praying that God may grant repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

And, of course, Paul warns the church about divisive people (Romans 16:17-18; Titus 3:9-11). Paul speaks in 1 Timothy 6:4 of those who have a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes. Given the desire of Christ to have an united Church (John 17), and the command for God’s people to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3), it is our desire to foster unity within all those who call upon Christ out of a pure heart.

It seems to us that the prime device of Satan through the centuries has been to divide Christians, one against another. We are committed to doing what we can to resist this treacherous work of the enemy. We do not want to win an argument for what we see as truth and lose the love that is at the core of who we are as Christians. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 8:1, tells us that knowledge puffs up and love builds up. We want to be builders. And we want to encourage even those who may differ with our particular positions, to walk closer to Christ, to love Him more deeply, to serve Him more fully, and to display not only His teaching but His character of grace and mercy to a world where there is far too much verbal and physical violence. The mouth that blesses God should not be a curse to man.

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