Monday, February 13, 2006

The Calvary Contender

When I was a pastoral studies major at Bob Jones University, I used to live in mortal fear that someday I would be exposed in "The Calvary Contender" as a "neo-evangelical." In that light, it was striking to see 1) that this publication has continued to this present day and 2) that, according to this article, it is finally shutting down.

It is also striking how the new media (i.e. the internet) has simply transformed the sort of thing "The Calvary Contender" used to do. While Mr. Huffman was limited by his finances and subscription list to get the word out about "compromising" ministries, now all one needs to do is to start a blog! Now, the kind of "truth-telling" that the "Contender" used to do can be done far more efficently. A number of theological firefights in various denominations are now conducted on the internet where they were once conducted through mimeographed scandal sheets.

But I wonder if we are better Christians with this model of ministry? Does the kind of "contending" helpfully model the virtues of Christ? Or to put it differently, does pugnaciousness, even if the name of "Truth," live out Paul's instructions in 2 Timothy 2:24-25: "And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness"? This type of ministry may attract quite a bit of attention, land you on Larry King Live, and sell books--but I don't think it helps God's people live out the character of Christ well.

I think a better model is the loving and long-suffering pastoral approach offered by the Apostle Paul (even in a book like Galatians in which he pleads with his people in 4:12-20). As we earnestly contend for the faith, we need to make sure that our people know that we will love them anyways and always, that our care for them is rooted in a prior relationship, a common "union," rooted in our common union with Christ. We may tell them the truth and expose error, but it is always motivated by love for Christ, his church, and his people.

Otherwise, we will simply be clanging gongs, crashing symbols, making loud noises but accomplishing nothing, even as we contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. For without love, we are nothing and our ministries are nothing.

4 comments:

Big Dangerous Rob said...

As a member of a denomination in turmoil, I simply say--Amen

Nathan said...

Are you really PCA? Are you sure you are not Southern Baptist?

Richard A. Bailey said...

If big dangerous rob is who I think it might be, Sean, your blog is attracting a very rough crowd. Take care, my brother.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that someone from a very liberal, homosexual affirming "church", bashes those who expose false teachings and false teachers. Paul warned several times in his letters about false teachers and teachings. Only those who choose to drift from the bible and interpret things their own way "like the presbyterian church", would be offended at being exposed by others.