Proper And Improper Controversy

We should all recognize that a certain bit of controversy is inevitable if there is to be growth and if the church is to be kept pure. Faithful servants of the Lord are to go out into an unbelieving world and earnestly contend for the faith. Reproving and rebuking are in order when error in practice or in doctrine appear. Christ and the apostles fought a good fight. They were worthy controversialists. They abhorred sin and opposed it, and so should we.

The church at Jerusalem was not destroyed when there was “much disputing” over the necessity of the Gentiles keeping the Jewish ordinances (Acts 15:7). Brethren then studied and taught calmly and avoided bitterness, so the serious question was resolved and unity that pleased the apostles and the whole church prevailed (Acts 15:22). Brethren, we should be able to differ without anger and malice as we study topics about which there are differences in understanding.

Avoiding foolish and unlearned questions would do much to avoid the envy and strife and the useless and improper controversy. This requires skill in discernment to separate truth from the error, and there should be special concern for the humble babe in Christ who does not understand.

It is a very significant danger signal when brethren begin to object to all study of subjects about which there is controversy. Truth can be tried in the fire of debate, but error thrives under the wet blanket of “no controversy allowed.” Heresy is brought in “privily” (2 Peter 2:1). Let some vigilant elder or preacher cry aloud when some perverse doctrine or practice is slipping into the family. Let us pray that we may come to learn by studying topics which are not understood by all rather than developing factions with closed minds and bitterness. There will, of course, always be different levels of understanding between the babes in Christ and the well taught giants among us. The “great plainness of speech” is used to help (2 Cor. 3:12). Please do not object to that which is necessary to the spiritual well being of the church.

By Irven Lee, Things that Make For Peace, Pages 4, 5

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