In this post-modern age, a confident declaration of the Truth is not widely admired. Often, when sharing the Gospel with unbelievers or when defending the doctrines of Scripture, well-meaning Christians are charged with mean-spiritedness and arrogance. It seems that everyone is very eager to share their own opinions, but if someone actually tries to deny the validity of another's position, they can only be doing so out of ill-intent. So we who believe that there is absolute truth and that this Truth can be certainly known must all be content with having our views constantly contradicted and we must pretend that we think we too are offering mere personal opinions.
I address this issue here due to a comment I received concerning a recent blogpost
, which comment stated:
"That must be a comfort - knowing you're right while also knowing that so many others are wrong. An ego-boost!"
So, supposing that the conclusions reached at the end of the first paragraph of this post are unacceptable, how are we to respond to comments/accusations such as the one presented in the quote above? Having meditated on this and having emailed some friends concerning this subject, I would like to submit the following considerations:
We must respond in humility
. A comment like the one above is really an accusation of pride and hard-heartedness. If we dismiss such accusations out-of-hand, then we may be turning our backs on a providential occasion for sanctification. None of us is so beyond selfishness that we can say, 'there is absolutely no chance that such an accusation could ever be true.' We must examine our own hearts in light of the Scripture and must seek accountability with other brothers and sisters in Christ who know us well to make sure that we are not, indeed, guilty of hard-hearted pride in some measure. Humility is to be the controlling characteristic of all our responses toward others as "God opposes the proud, but gives Grace to the humble" (James 4:6b). Based upon this principle, I would like to suggest the following 5 responses when confronted with a comment like the one quoted above:
- We must respond with investigation. If we receive a comment such as the one above, and if there is any evidence appended to such a comment, then we must humbly look into the evidence. Whether the evidence is concerning our personal character or concerning our doctrinal positions, we must prayerfully consider the possibility that we do have some error in our thinking. “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” (Proverbs 18:17 ESV)
- We must respond with compassion. It is NOT a comfort to the child of God AT ALL to know "that so many others are wrong." Rather, we realize that it is only by God's Grace through the power of the Holy Spirit that we have any measure of spiritual understanding, and it is our burden that others should come to a similar knowledge of the Truth. In this response, we follow the example of our Lord, of whom it was written, “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34 ESV)
- We must respond with Grace. Specifically, we should use comments or accusations such as the one quoted above as an opportunity to speak of God’s Grace. When we are trying to convince someone that they are in error based on the clear teaching of God’s Word, the Bible– and not merely depending on our own intelligence– we are NOT acting in arrogance, for we realize that outside of God’s Grace all of our thinking has become futile (see Romans 1:21). Outside of God’s Grace, no one seeks God (see Romans 3:11b). And so we are all in desperate need of a specific work of God in our hearts and minds if we are ever to understand any truth He has revealed and if we are ever to apply God’s truth by loving Him and loving others according to His plan. “What do you have that you did not receive?” (I Corinthians 4:7b)
- We must respond with boldness. When we receive negative comments such as the one quoted above, one common reaction is to become less bold in our proclamation of the Truth. But if we are sure that we are speaking in accordance with the Bible, then we CANNOT afford to speak half-heartedly. God’s Truth must be proclaimed with steadfast conviction. In this, we follow the example set by the apostles in the book of Acts. It was when the religious leaders perceived the boldness of Peter and John that they recognized these men “had been with Jesus” (see Acts 4:13). The early Church in Jerusalem, therefore, prayed for boldness in their proclamation of God’s Word (see Acts 4:29), and God answered their prayer (see Acts 4:31). The book of Acts records this bold beginning of the apostolic ministry, and closes with the note about the Apostle Paul, that he continued “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” (Acts 28:31)
- We must respond with Truth. As stated at the beginning of the post, a confident declaration of Truth is not widely admired. Most people today either believe that there is no absolute truth, or if there is, that it cannot be certainly known. But we who have become God’s children by His Grace must hold to the Truth and must proclaim the Truth to this world full of error, recognizing that when we do, we are likely to receive comments such as the one that prompted this blogpost. And what is the Truth? The psalmist tells us in his song to God, “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever” (Psalm 119:160 ESV), and Jesus likewise reveals in His prayer to God, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17 ESV). God’s Word, the Holy Bible, is Truth and it is this Truth that we are bound to proclaim humbly with investigation, with compassion, with Grace, and with boldness.
[On a similar topic, see Dan Phillips' recent blogpost, "How to deal with posts you don't like (and the flip side)"
, which applies equally well to the comments following blogposts.]