We Have Not Loved You With Our Whole Heart

By | September 17, 2014


“There are uncomfortable links between the Corinthians and much that passes as sound theology and ministry in evangelical circles. Paul confronted the arrogant disposition that accompanied the intellectualism of the strong. They had adopted a common therapeutic model of reason to improve the weak by correcting each faulty belief. The cure came through sermons to drive out false beliefs. Paul had no such agenda. He promoted love rather than precision and conformity. He urged the strong to be sensitive to the pain of the weak rather that to correct every inadequate belief.

Much evangelical theology and preaching sides with the Corinthians over against Paul. In some circles a simplistic logic links preaching and objectivity with the authority of the Bible, portraying the preacher as the last line of defense against the evils of relativism. The outcome is an obsession among some clergy and congregations with driving out every vestige of thought deemed less than truly evangelical. This mindset has spawned generations of zealous preachers who have harassed their captive audiences into needless guilt and dubious “work for the Lord.”  Unable or unwilling to step down from their presumptions of theological and ministerial superiority, they preach to cast out error, while never facing the pain of those who hear.

…God in his mercy had justified the ungodly.  Where a man might dare to pay the ultimate cost for a patron of great significance, the Son of God sacrificed himself for the powerless, the impious and the guilty. God had not set aside his justice in order to grant mercy but had revealed his justice in the judgment of his Son on behalf of those who would believe in him. (Rom. 1:17; 3:21-22, 25-26).”

-Reframing Paul: Conversations in Grace & Community, by Mark Strom


Submit Comment

newest oldest
Notify of

Oh, I think you are right on about the obsession with correcting wrong beliefs. With some of these people, its a constant obsession with correcting every jot and tittle instead of focusing on things that are essentials to the faith. The more I read modern day evangelical popes’ twitter feeds, the more I feel they simply like to hear themselves talk and pontificate about what it wrong with every other Christian in the world, because they are the only ones who could possibly have it figured out.

I’ll give you an example….James White. The man is a great debater. I’ve learned from him over the years. But I also believe he has a bit of an arrogant streak and has a tendency to just pick people apart over everything. Maybe that’s just the debater in him. The problem happens when he, and others, fill their days up with needless debate on Twitter and don’t do anything that involves actually preaching the gospel to the unconverted or discipling people who are converted.

I seriously think there are times when a teacher should acknowledge that they don’t have a fresh thought to add, and that there is indeed “nothing new under the sun.” Sometimes its just better to shut up for a while than it is to try to find error to pick apart, just so you might have fodder for your next sermon series.

I think every one of these guys is actually secretly thankful for Joel Osteen, because when people to criticize are scarce for a moment, you can always pick up that punching bag and easily find theological error to pound.

Interesting assessment. But I wonder if the 2 scenarios are more about legalism and burdening people again with the old Law, rather than correcting wrong beliefs?