Controversy for the Truth
I am contemplating a revision of my work Why I Stopped Listening to Rush. After some serious reflection and prayer, I have concluded that the book was a failure. Though it met with an enthusiastic response among my readers, it utterly failed to convince those who most needed convincing. Its controversial tone, I am told, did little to ingratiate it among my closest friends and acquaintances that still look to conservatism to help solve our nation’s ills. Francis Schaeffer had good reason to refer to love as “the mark of the Christian” (The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century). But controversy for the truth is no stranger to Christianity, as Schaeffer himself knew. I well recall listening to Dr. Schaeffer in Switzerland sharing how difficult it was for him to live among a people that so vehemently opposed his work. Popularity among American evangelicals never did translate into acceptance by the Swiss!
As I see it, tolerance is no virtue when the future of a nation is at stake. Jesus Himself was a controversialist (see Matt. 23:15-39), and so should be His followers when the need arises. The battle today is not just between holiness and sin, or between love and hatred, but between truth and error. Truth is always uncompromising. It condemns prayer at “interfaith” services where the name of Christ is forbidden for fear of being offensive. It condemns politicians (of any party) who claim that both Islam and Christianity lead to God. It condemns the Positive Thinking philosophy that uses Christian terms and even speaks of Christ and then leads people to hell. Kingdom ministry embraces bold, clear, challenging proclamation (Gk. kerusso). When a Greek herald (kerux) had something important to say, his audience had better listen!
Jesus was not loath to unmask the Pharisees of His day. They were a brood of vipers, but He loved them, and so He had to strip off their masks so that people could see who they really were. Most of us (for I include myself) ought to be more careful not to appeal to faith as an excuse for failures in love. Love is primary, and even the object of church discipline is not to humiliate, let alone to alienate, the person concerned, but to win him over.
At the same time, we have to choose today between two incompatible gospels – between the false gospel of social amelioration that focuses on the “wonder-working power” of the American spirit (as our president once put it), and the true gospel that centers on the Savior, who alone can transform society.
To put it very simply, a good test of a person’s ideology is whether it exalts God and humbles man, or whether it exalts man and humbles God – a point, incidentally, which I consistently tried to make in my “controversial” book.
August 2, 2005
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. If you would like to know more about becoming a follower of King Jesus, please feel free to write Dave.