"Nothing more impressive than an intellectual and spiritual approach to seeking truth and a willingness to embrace it unconditionally."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Stott on How and Why Christians Should Debate Each Other

From John Stott’s book, Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1970).

On what Christians should do when they disagree with each other:

The proper activity of professing Christians who disagree with one another is neither to ignore, nor to conceal, nor even to minimize their differences, but to debate them. (p. 22)

On why we should speak the truth in love, not being truthless in love or loveless in truth:

We seem in our generation to have moved a long way from this vehement zeal for the truth which Christ and his apostles displayed. But if we loved the glory of God more, and if we cared more for the eternal good of the souls of men, we would not refuse to engage in necessary controversy, when the truth of the gospel is at stake. The apostolic command is clear. We are “to maintain the truth in love,” being neither truthless in our love, nor loveless in our truth, but holding the two in balance. (p. 19)

On the difference between a “tolerant mind” and a “tolerant spirit”:

We need to distinguish between the tolerant mind and the tolerant spirit. Tolerant in spirit a Christian should always be, loving, understanding, forgiving and forbearing others, making allowances for them, and giving them the benefit of the doubt, for true love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” [1 Cor. 13:7]. But how can we be tolerant in mind of what God has plainly revealed to be either evil or erroneous? (p. 8)

I think Stott would have liked something G. K. Chesterton once said: ““The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid” (The Autobiography, vol. 16 of The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton [San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988], 212).

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2010/02/10/stott-on-how-and-why-christians-should-debate-each-other/

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