Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

Some clarifications

Here I explain the reasons for the approach and position adopted on this website.

Am I narrow minded, judgmental, unloving, divisive and legalistic?

In the Believer's Page are links to several articles which take a stand on Biblical issues. A lot of Christians (true and false) find this objectionable. This piece answers their concerns. I will first mention the objections, followed by my responses.

"You're narrow minded". May be. But truth matters, not broadness or narrowness.
"You're narrow minded". May be. But truth matters, not broadness or narrowness.
"All that matters is that we love Jesus. Why are you getting distracted by other details?" But Jesus said that to love him means to keep his commands (John 14:15). How will you keep his commands if you don't know them?
"You're narrow minded". May be. But truth matters, not broadness or narrowness. 
"You have a 'holier than thou' attitude". No I don't. Illustration: I'm convinced that the Bible preaches plural leadership in a local church. So if someone believes in a single "Pastor" over a church, I'd consider him mistaken. But there's more to the Bible than church leadership. For all we know, that mistaken person may have better personal holiness than I do. I don't know everything about him, and so I cannot and do not claim that I'm a better Christian than him just because he's mistaken about something. 
"You're unnecessarily splitting hairs, worrying about non-issues on which the Bible is not clear or not emphatic". Actually, the Bible claims to be clear on all the subjects that it speaks on; it also insists that all the subjects it speaks on are important, and that we must take a stand on all issues (see the Bible Authority page for details). 
"You're being unloving in preaching these things". No. To love someone (which is the greatest commandment) means to seek the best interest of the other person. Thus, for me to withhold truth from you would be unloving. Biblical teaching is amazingly profitable (Psalm 19:11), and thus love compels me to disseminate Biblical truth.
"You're divisive. If we don't take any stand on these issues, there will be much more unity". No. Where do you find the Bible prescribing silence on doctrine as a strategy for maintaining or creating unity? On the contrary, Biblical unity is created by the Holy Spirit in response to the salvation that we have availed of from God (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Ephesians 4:3). Biblical unity is maintained by
  1. using only the new birth and the willingness to obey God as criteria for fellowship
  2. teaching God's word so that we all believe the same things (1 Corinthians 1:10) and have one mind (1 Peter 3:8)
"You're being like the Pharisees, the biggest villains in the gospels". No. The Lord Jesus never reprimanded the Pharisees for dissecting the Bible. He reprimanded them for adding their tradition to scripture (Mark 7:13). He chided them for their ignorance of the Bible (Mark 12:24) and asked them to study their Bibles (John 5:39). A lot of his answers to their questions began with, "Have you not read..."
"As Christians, we struggle so much with basic things like purity in our thought life, forgiving one another, etc. so why bother about the more 'technical' stuff?" This sounds very convincing, but where is such a line of thought in the Bible? When Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees for straining at gnats and swallowing camels (Matthew 23:23-24), judgment, mercy and faith were the "weightier" matters. It was crops for tithing that were the "lesser" matters, not the Biblical topics discussed on this website. In fact, these topics constitute judgment (that is, discernment) and faith, and thus are the "weightier matters" in the Lord's comparison.
"You're judging!". We're not supposed to judge according to Matthew 7:1, right?
Firstly: Aren't you judging me by saying that I'm judging?
Secondly: There are verses such as John 7:24, 1 Corinthians 10:15 asking us to judge. Hebrews 5:14 commends those who have used their spiritual senses to identify good and evil. In fact, in Ezekiel 3:18 God warns His servant to warn those who err. In Romans 16:17 we're directed to identify false teachers and avoid them. In Acts 17:11, the Bereans are commended for "judging" whether Paul's sermons were scriptural or not. I leave it to you to figure out how all these verses fit together, but one thing should be obvious: Matthew 7:1 is not a blanket ban on saying/concluding that something/someone is not right. 
Thirdly: Ask yourself whether you're consistent in applying this verse. As an example, if you believe in replacement theology (that God is done with the nation of Israel and the church is the new Israel) you may accuse me of being "judgmental" when I say that you're wrong. But don't you tell the atheists that abortion or homosexuality is wrong? Are you not being "judgmental" there? You may say: "Well, the Bible is clear about these issues, but "Israel" is a Biblically neutral "non-essential" issue about which we should not be dogmatic". My response is: "From my reading of the Bible, I don't think "Israel" is an issue on which the Bible is neutral. And there are many who consider the Bible to be neutral about homosexuality and abortion after reading the same passages that you've read." 

"God wants us to only preach the gospel, not to criticize other faiths as you have done"

While I agree that our primary aim is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ (the "Main" Message!) I disagree with the idea that we must be silent on other teachings because:-
  1. The Old Testament explicitly criticizes other gods (Psalm 96:5, 2 Kings 23:13), other religions and their adherents (Psalm 115:4-8).
  2. Paul told the Greeks and Romans that their worship was "ignorant" (Acts 17:23). By denouncing man-made temples (Acts 17:24) and idols (Acts 17:29), he criticized their religion. On another occasion, he referred to Greco-Roman gods as "these vanities" (Acts 14:15).
  3. Jesus being the only way to God is central to the message of the Bible (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). The obvious logical consequence is that all world religions are false. Why refrain from stating the obvious?
  4. The non-Christian sees no need to consider the Biblical gospel because he is convinced that his beliefs are true. Thus, pointing out the errors in other belief systems is part of meeting people where they are.

"God only wants us to preach the Bible, not make any attempts to prove it"

No. 1 Peter 3:15 asks us to provide a reason for our hope to those who ask. The Greek word translated "answer" in the King James Bible is apologia (from which we get "apologetics") - it literally means a well reasoned, logical defense of one's position. Paul and Apollos "proved" to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah by matching OT prophecy with Jesus' life (Acts 18:28, Acts 19:8-9, Acts 17:2-3). Therefore, the use of evidence to supplement the preaching of the gospel is Biblical. In objecting to my presentation of evidence for the Bible, you may have the following in mind:-

  • Although there is evidence for the Bible, there is no math-style proof for it. So faith is indispensable.
  • Being mentally convinced that the Bible is true is not the same as saving faith
  • We can present all the evidence we like but only God can truly convict a person.

I affirm all of these. My use of evidence should not be construed as a denial of these Biblical truths.