Editors note: Below is a guest post from Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr. Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr. teaches at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida where he also serves as a teaching fellow for Ligonier Ministries. He is the founder of Highlands Ministries and former editor of Tabletalk magazine.
It is a sure sign that sin messes things up that we keep watching the same boxing match over and over again, between truth and unity. Both sides, of course, insist that they have a deep and abiding love for the other. They shake hands in the center of the ring, go back to their corners, wait for the bell and come out ready to destroy the one they love. In the stands we stand, screaming ourselves hoarse in defense of our favorite.
Until recently unity has been on a hot streak. Charismatics, dispensationalists, YRR, and old school Reformed folk, post-mills and a-mils have managed to work together for the gospel. Blogs and conferences, magazines and books have born much fruit from cross-pollinating. We discovered that our brothers on the other side of this aisle or that do not actually have horns. We remembered that the beauty of what unites us is not only more important, but more potent than the nuances that divide us.
But we should never count out truth, or at least our own version of it. Though it was on the ropes, like Rocky in the last few rounds, truth has shown a rare ability to take a punch, and come back strong. It has moved well past highlighting what separates charismatics from dispensationalists and this Reformed group from that, and has now got each camp engaged in its own civil war. Cessationism versus continuationism, neckties versus t-shirts, beer versus teetotalism have sparked fires that rage inside our own worlds.
So what do we do? Can we get truth and unity to kiss and make up? Only if Christians learn to grow up. We need to not only learn to distinguish between primary and secondary doctrines/practices, we need to learn to value them accurately. Can we both agree that being wrong on baptism is not a damnable heresy, and also affirm that it is an issue that matters? Can I seek to correct my Baptist brothers in a way that speaks to them as brothers who are wrong on an important issue? And can I in turn hear with grace my Baptist brothers as they lovingly seek to correct my error on the issue? Can I be concerned that my charismatic brother is leaving open the door for false prophecy and at the same time understand that he is concerned that I am boxing in the Holy Spirit?
I have an opinion on virtually every issue that is being argued on the internet. I think some positions being espoused are good, sound, biblical. I think others are fallacious, dangerous, and unbiblical. I know that whatever the Bible teaches, that is what’s right and true. And I know the Bible teaches that I am often wrong. It is not Rodney King that asks if we can all get along. It is Jesus asking, in His high priestly prayer (John 17). He is the Truth, and He calls us to unity. That comes in reflecting His character. He, even when He corrects us, is for us. He, even when we are wrong, loves us perfectly. He is lowly in spirit and will not break a bruised reed.
We will not change until we choose our heroes not by how cogently or fiercely they defend our position on this issue or that, but by how much they reflect the grace of Christ whatever their position.
This article was first featured on R.C. Sproul, Jr’s blog, back in 2011.