Thursday, May 23, 2002

Posts are in reverse chronological order.

Another Mail Call

I have been corresponding with a new friend – recently we were discussing the charismatic question. Not which side is right, but whether or not the debate is even edifying. In response to my telling him I intended to study this more, he wrote:


Should You be convinced by more study and talk with others? What would that mean in the grand scheme of the universe? Why does this subject mean so much to You? Why not let the charismatic's and non-charismatic's debate until the-end-of-time, Jesus will take care of things like this when He is ready to let everyone know which side was right in the eyes of God. It may very well be that neither side is right. Where would that fit into Your search for Righteousness?

This is a fair and troubling question. I am not sure I have a good answer. But I’ll try.

First of all, we are commanded to speak the truth in too many verses to reproduce here. Just a few:

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my with me in the Holy Spirit,
that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.
(Rom 9:1, NASB)

For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. (2 Cor 13:8, NASB)

And the fearsome:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! (Gal 1:8, NASB)

On the other hand, we have the warning:

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. (Titus 3:0, NASB)

So we are commanded to preach the truth, and yet avoid foolish controversies.

This means, conversely, that we are not to avoid serious, substantive controversies.

So my answer to my reader’s question is: We should not debate the issue if is a foolish controversy, otherwise we must debate it.

On what basis?

Of course the difficult question is then, when is the debate a foolish one? I take the Gal 1:8 verse as my guide—to me this says: If someone is demonstrably teaching a different gospel then surely they should be confronted.

The proof of the error must come from scripture, and scripture alone.

So, for example, I will not have a serious debate with anyone about eschatology. (Well, perhaps for amusement purposes, but never with any sense of earnestness.) I just don’t see it as important—I fully expect to see pre, post, and amillennial believers in glory. Obviously many, if not all of us, will have been wrong.

On the other hand, I would always be willing to confront someone who teaches a different gospel, such as salvation by works. I am also willing to confront easy-believism, which is rampant in my own denomination.

As for the debate between charismatics and non-charismatics—I just don’t know whether it is an edifying or foolish debate (which is why I want to study it more). If I am convicted that it is a foolish controversy, then I should not stir up the pot. However if I am convicted that is a serious error, I must (in love) confront charismatic believers. I would expect them to do the same for me.

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