Apologetics 14: Do Not Quarrel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 5, 2021 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
~2 Timothy 2:24-26

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel. Quarreling within the church began pretty well as soon as the church began. The office of the deacon had to be established to quell the first church fight (because some believers were not being served compared to others). A council took place in Acts 15 for how to deal with Jewish Law and Gentile believers. In Corinth, sects were uniting based on following Paul, Peter, or Apollos. Church fights have been going on ever since. There are some battles that had to be fought and some that didn’t.

Athanasius was a church leader who stood firm against the false teachings of Arius which nearly overtook the 4th century church. People think the Roman Catholic Church controlled and directed all of it, but apparently Constantine just wanted an answer to all of it and for the most part sided with Arius, not with Athanasius. Each of the church’s creeds were written primarily to clarify and affirm core doctrines which were under attack at the time (primarily around the deity of Christ and the Trinity). Confessions and catechisms were written to help protect the church from false teachings and to continue to codify the teachings that were already present. Whenever false teachings versus the integrity of Scripture are at hand, we MUST rise up and make a stand for what is true. The church has done this for 2000 years, to the point of shedding blood. Yet in the U.S., very few are making that stand (though they are there, and I’ve previously cited those I’ve found who do).

However, there are certain things that are not worth fighting over. We are not to fight every battle or die on every hill. However, many who believe error have used this to keep their pet doctrines from being scrutinized. The reason I make a big issue out of origins is not because of the interpretation of the word “yom” (meaning “day”). It’s over the authority of Scripture. If the “old earth side” could actually present their case as being from the Bible, not something from completely outside Scripture, I would consider origins to be a secondary issue. This is why I don’t make a huge issue out of Calvinism or Arminianism, because both sides showcase their position from Scripture.

Yet, there are speculations and quarrels that take place that never should take place. Did you know that the Pharisees and Sadducees had doctrinal debates about not merely whether the resurrection took place, but whether you wore clothes when you resurrected? We have worse debates today. One of the biggest church fights over meaningless issues is over traditional versus contemporary music styles. Voddie Baucham points out those two styles came about in the 1950s and 1970s respectively. I personally like the music style of the recent stuff, but I really don’t care for the songs themselves. But I’m not going to argue over musical style. That said, the music better actually be worship of God, because sadly, most of it is so doctrinally empty that to call it worship is rather insulting to God.

But why do we fight? In any church fight where the battle is not over the authority or integrity of Scripture and moral issues, the primary reason for such fights is simply pride. In the verse right before the passage quoted above, Paul tells Timothy to avoid foolish and ignorant speculations which lead to quarrels. I’ll look at those speculations later on in this series. Paul told the Roman church that the real source of division in the church is not those who make a stink about false teachings but those who bring in the false teachings. Paul specifically says they do not serve Christ but their own bellies, and with flattery they deceive the hearts of the simple. We must mark those people and avoid them, giving them no platform. We are to refuse false teachings but not use that as a cover for our own pride.

One of the easiest ways to avoid quarreling is to not get offended. Yes, we must stand for truth, but too often we get into fights because we are offended that someone has a different opinion than us. Two books help deal with this issue: John Bevere in The Bait of Satan and John Hyde in Praying Hyde, Apostle of Prayer. In Bevere’s book, he makes the claim that if you are focused on Christ, and not yourself or even others, you won’t get offended. If your goal is Christ, then you will fight for what Christ wants to fight for, but you won’t make an issue of anything He isn’t. John Hyde amazed me, because he never got offended about anything. He always treated every argument as a misunderstanding. As a result of that, he never got offended by what anyone said. He did not say this to blow off any errors he made. He said this as a means to avoid getting into an unnecessary fight. He fought his battles on his knees.

Back on post #5 in this series, I quoted John MacArthur saying we have to be willing to engage in conflict. There is a difference between engaging in conflict and being quarrelsome. It is hard to discern in the moment, but there is a difference. In the war for truth, we must be unwavering and unmovable; but when it comes to personal preferences, sometimes the self needs to be put aside. While some have made secondary issues into primary issues, others have made primary issues into secondary issues. One of the easiest tests we can use to discern which one is being done is to see where Scripture is held in that discussion. If the clarity, intention, and authority of Scripture are being questioned, then it’s a primary issue. If an outside opinion is being presented, does it line up with what is explicitly given in Scripture or at least not contradict it? This test is why I can accept “heliocentrism” but not “deep time” ideas. The former doesn’t force a change in anything Scripture says. The latter not only forces a change in Genesis but when fully carried out, it forces a change on the gospel itself.

Know when to fight, but also know when not to fight. Not every hill is worth dying on, but don’t let false teachers tell you which hills you should die on and which ones you shouldn’t. Let Christ make that call. Next week, we’ll look at being gentle.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.