Passion. We all are passionate about someone or something. We are so moved about a topic or book or style of music or a person’s teaching that are willing to defend it. Sometimes that passion is blinding in that the person is unwilling to recognize any other point of view. Other times the constructive criticism and logical arguments against a stated position is sometimes viewed as a person spewing anger filled rhetoric and relegated to a personal attack instead of what it really was: a critique of potential in a stated position on any given topic.
People who hold a conservative view of the bible and what the bible teaches about man and where he stands in relation to His Creator are very passionate about defending their Lord and Savior. They hold a very high view of scripture and will not interpret any verse without first considering the context in which that verse is found. For example, they will not Jeremiah 29:11 or Romans 8:28 as verses that support God’s desire for His people to experience material wealth. The ultimate good for all those who follow Christ, as John MacArthur points out, is to spend eternity in Heaven with the God they love. Those who agree with this view, are passionate about defending this view, and are rightly critical of those who teach a different interpretation is usually brushed off as too serious or that they just don’t like the person whose teaching they are criticizing.
The ultimate good for those who love Christ is not to necessarily live in a mansion on the nicest street in town and have no money worries. What I mean is that we are not guaranteed any kind of worldly comfort while we living here. The apostles lived on the equivalent to what we would call paycheck-to-paycheck. They were not rich and the initial spread of the gospel was entrusted to them by Jesus Christ Himself. To teach that material wealth and goods is what God has intended for His children is change the focus of the relationship from God and turn it onto self. Once that happens, the worship of man increases while the sovereignty of God decreases. We become what we are today, a self-centered society both within the church and outside the church.
The issue becomes what people are being taught. Teachers begin ripping verses from the bible and teach that God’s promises are for His children to prosper materially. Then the detractors come out against this teaching. They are against anything that teaches that we should ask God for material wealth because that is His wish. They are against any doctrine that is not God-centered and exalts man. They are against teachings that exalts man and either downplays man’s sin or ignores the depravity of man altogether. They are passionate about defending what the Reformers had remedied in the deficiency of the Roman Catholic doctrine. They are passionate about defending and contending for the faith and the teaching of the apostles.
Then the defenders of the new, man-centered way of interpreting the bible start to defend by attacking what they name critics. They call their critics “legalists” and “fundamentalists” and proclaim that the critics are jealous and envious of the new church leaders. They are the first to throw around derogatory comments and try to defame their critics. While the concerned critics provide a biblically backed critique of the new teaching, the defenders offer unbiblical commentary and derision.
Look at what the way they defend their position. They do not respond by going to the bible and citing scripture that backs their position, they instead try to discredit, disparage or outright say the critic has no idea what they are talking about. In fact, what the critic is usually against is a doctrine based on emotion and experience over sound bible-based teaching, how man feels and how experiences govern how a man feels rather than the bible teaching of the depravity of man, his complete uselessness and hopelessness without God. The defender scoffs at the critic stating the critic doesn’t understand because he hasn’t spent time and experienced a service with the teacher.
(One little side note about that. Paul or other writers of the NT did not personally know all those who had detracted from the apostle’s teaching, but they taught against it anyway. They warned against false teachers with their ear-tickling doctrine and told their readers to be ready for it. I am sure that the Apostle John did not personally know all the Gnostics he defended against in 1 John but he defended the gospel against because he did not need to listen to or discuss or sit in a sermon in order to understand that what they taught was not the gospel.)
Now what I am trying to say is those who defend the gospel with any degree of passion are always denounced as being angry. Their passionate defense is concluded to be an angry attack based on jealousy and envy. They equate notoriety and celebrity status as meaning a higher level of authority in the church, and with that status comes infallibility. Passion is not jealous anger or envy. Passion is an earnest plea from one who cares about His Lord and Savior for a church leader to stop leading the sheep astray into desert with false promises “faith-infused” green pastures.
We are to love our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, which equals passion for the Lord. You cannot be passionate about something unless all four components mentioned are involved. Passion is not anger, it is a deep-rooted concern about the state of the church, God’s people.