We live in an age where disagreement with another’s point of view is considered divisive, to keep it to one word. This is especially true where the society and culture are pushing a particular position as the only right position to support and anyone who opposes is called all types of names that are probably untrue but are said to deflect anyone else from seriously considering the objection presented. It is almost impossible to disagree with the man-centered philosophy that promulgates popular opinion. It is borderline ridiculous. Standing on orthodox biblical doctrine is near the top of the list of intolerable beliefs, even with the church body.
Jude reminds us, earnestly, to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”. But to insist that there is one way to correctly interpret scripture seems to be looked at with contempt. (I would compare it to be similarly looked at as if the preacher delivered part of his sermon laced with f-bombs but I don’t think we are too far from that reality.) Those who stand up for the orthodox doctrine that has been passed down through church ages, contending against Arianism, palagianism, Arminianism, Gnosticism to name a few heresies that have tried to infiltrate the church orthodoxy from within the church. The same attitude was turn towards those who opposed these heresies and apostate teachings, laced with vitriol and hate. Those who defend and contend from the faith are the ones accused of being in the wrong.
The word of God is a double-edged sword, sharp to enough to divide bone from marrow. We cannot allow for the prevailing attitude and sentiment to dull the edge of that sword, or wrap it up in bubble-wrap so as to not hurt or offend anyone. And the mainline evangelicalism has acquiesced to this presentation of the gospel. The way they define their theology and how they determine what they will preach is by surveying their audience to determine how the wind is blowing and then develop messages that will meet them where they are and catch their sails. Doctrine takes a back seat, stuffed into the closet because no wants to be confronted with hard truth. They want soft blows from a rubber mallet that gently knocks out the kinks.
Why are we so afraid of the truth? Why do we focus on performing good works? Why are not putting an equal amount of emphasis on teaching essential doctrine? Why are so concerned with social reform, mounting an attack on the ills of the victims of society and not concerned with teaching biblical truth about justification, sanctification, the Trinity, original sin, creation and other doctrines? We shouldn’t be neglecting one so we can focus on the other. We have lost our way.
We are not much different than the Pharisees of Jesus day. They were building monuments to the prophets they admired but Jesus tells them that would have stood with those who imprisoned them and stoned them. Today, teachers read verses from Paul’s letters but would probably push him out the door if he showed up in their churches today because he would want to know why they are preaching another gospel than the one in his epistles. Those who claim to hold the word of God dear would be the ones picking up the stones to throw at Stephen. We have become so enamored with being accepted and adored by the world that we dare not say anything to have them turn against us.
Doctrine matters. It mattered to Jesus, it mattered to the apostles and it mattered to the church fathers we consider stalwarts of the faith. Doctrine divides and rightly so. Just as Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares, so His truth will separate those who truly are surrendered to Him form those who pay Him lip service, whose lips speak good of Him but their hearts are far from Him.