Archive for the ‘controversy’ Category

We must learn to distinguish between certainties and uncertainties, necessaries and unnecessaries, catholic verities and private opinions; and to lay the stress of the Church’s peace upon the former, not upon the latter

November 14, 2009

We must learn to distinguish between certainties and uncertainties, necessaries and unnecessaries, catholic verities and private opinions; and to lay the stress of the Church’s peace upon the former, not upon the latter. We must avoid the common confusion of speaking of those who make no difference between verbal and real errors, and hate that ‘madness formerly among theologians,’ who tear their brethren as heretics, before they understand them. And we must learn to see the true state of controversies, and reduce them to the very point where the difference lieth, and not make them seem greater than they are. Instead of quarrelling with our brethren, we must combine against the common adversaries; and all ministers must associate and hold communion, and correspondence, and constant meetings to these ends; and smaller differences of judgment are not to interrupt them.

Richard Baxter, Reformed Pastor, p.123

Gospel Ecumenism and Doctrinal Commitment

June 28, 2009

We believe in the five great points commonly known as Calvinistic; but we do not regard these five points as being barbed shafts which we are to thrust between the ribs of our fellow-Christians. We look upon them as being five great lamps which help to irradiate the cross; or, rather, five bright emanations springing from the glorious covenant of our Triune God, and illustrating the great doctrine of Jesus crucified.gainst all comers, especially against all lovers of Arminianism, we defend and maintain pure gospel truth. At the same time I can make this public declaration, that I am no Antinomian. I belong not to the sect of those who are afraid to invite the sinner to Christ. I warn him, I invite him, I exhort him. Hence, then, I have contumely on either hand. Inconsistency is urged by some, as if anything that God commanded could be inconsistent. I will glory in such inconsistency even to the end I bind myself precisely to no form of doctrine. I love those five points as being the angles of the gospel, but then I love the center between the angles better still. Moreover, we are Baptists, and we cannot swerve from this matter of discipline, nor can we make our church half-and-half in that matter. The witness of our church must be one and indivisible. We must have one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. And yet dear to our hearts is that great article of the Nicene Creed, the “Communion of Saints.” I believe not in the communion of Episcopalians. I do not believe in the communion of Baptists. I dare not sit with them exclusively. I think I should be almost strict communicant enough not to sit with them at all, because I should say, “This is not the communion of saints, it is the communion of Baptists.” Whosoever loves the Lord Jesus Christ in verity and truth hath a hearty welcome, and is not only permitted, but invited to communion with the Church of Christ. However, we can say with all our hearts, that difference has never lost us one good friend yet. I see around me our independent brethren, they certainly have been to Elim to-day, for there has been much water here; and I see round about me dear strict communion brethren and one of them is about to address you. He is not so strict a communionist but what he really in his own heart communes with the people of God. I can number among my choicest friends many members of the church of England, and some of every denomination under heaven. I glory in that fact. However sternly a man may hold the right of private judgment, he can yet give his right hand with as light a grip to every man that loves Jesus Christ.

CH Spurgeon, The Full Harvest, 1973, p.12-13

Controversy – how to engage in it

December 12, 2008

Controversy and how to engage in it

More is at stake than simply making up our minds. We ought also to struggle with the question of how best to communicate with those who disagree with us, and to sympathize with them where we genuinely can.

In a word, we will be trying to understand other people, not just make up our minds. At the same time, we can never ignore the concern for truth.

Vern Poythress On dispensationalism and Covenant theology


December 12, 2008


“A fondness (my emph.) for controversy is not the road to extensive usefulness in winning souls to Christ.”

James Upton; Letters on the Excellence and Influence of Evangelical Truth (1819), p. 40.

(But it must be reluctantly entered into when necessary!)


December 12, 2008

Lloyd-Jones never took the title fundamentalist, and it would be inaccurate to identify him with that movement. Yet such was his opposition to liberalism and his call to separation in 1966 that one of his defenders feels constrained to say, “American readers must not imagine that Lloyd-Jones was a militant fundamentalist of the sort they are familiar with.”20 Indeed, Lloyd-Jones had reservations about the pattern of North American fundamentalism. While preaching in Toronto, Canada, in 1932, Lloyd-Jones encountered T. T. Shields (1873–1955), pastor of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church in that city and probably the leading Canadian fundamentalist of that time. Shields had heard Lloyd-Jones on the radio and was eager to meet him. The account of their meeting, as recounted by Lloyd-Jones, is rather extraordinary. The Welsh pastor related to the Canadian that he was troubled by the ceaselessly controversial aspect of Shields’s ministry. Lloyd-Jones said, “You can make mincemeat of the liberals and still be in trouble in your own soul.” Shields argued, “Do you know, every time I indulge in what you call one of these ‘dog-fights’ the sales of the Gospel Witness go right up.

What about that?” Lloyd-Jones replied, “I have always observed that if there is a dog-fight a crowd gathers, I’m not surprised. People like that sort of thing.” According to Lloyd-Jones, he closed the conversation by saying, “Dr. Shields, you used to be known as the Canadian Spurgeon, and you were. You are an outstanding man, in intellect, in preaching gift, in every other respect, but…in the early twenties you suddenly changed and became negatory and denunciatory. I feel it has ruined your ministry. Why don’t you come back! Drop all this, preach the gospel to people positively and win them!” Shields did not change his approach, but he maintained a respect for the other man. He later urged Lloyd-Jones to return to Canada in 1933 and supply Shield’s pulpit in his absence. This account is related in Murray, The First Forty Years, pp. 271–73, 283. Lloyd-Jones also recounts this incident without mentioning Shields’s name in Preaching and Preachers (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971), pp. 259–61, although he warns immediately afterward of the danger of being too irenic in preaching.
19 See Iain Murray, “The Story of the Banner of Truth Trust,” Banner of Truth,
November 1993 (special edition), pp. 15–23.
20 Raymond Lanning, “Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Doctor,” in More Than
Conquerors, ed. John Woodbridge (Chicago: Moody, 1992), p. 209.

For those who are discerners and attack the (very real) faults of the church – watch your soul! “You can make mincemeat of the liberals and still be in trouble in your own soul.”