28 June 2012

Contend for the Faith

In his TGC breakout talk last year C.J. Mahaney pointed out something in Jude 3, which reads:

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

I grew up in a corner of evangelicalism that loved and preached and wrote books about the second part of this verse--'contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.' And that's what Jude does throughout the rest of his short letter as he calls out the false teachers. So, we today, too, contend for the faith. Preserve sound doctrine. Guard our theology. To this day I hold that charge precious and want to do all I can to obey it.

C.J. pointed out, though, that this was not the letter Jude wanted to write. The letter he wanted to write was one that exulted in what he had in common with his readers. 'I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation.' But, alas, I had to write a letter that was less enjoyable but more important for the sake of your souls at this point in your lives.

A question for those of us who love sound doctrine: are we more eager to police other Christians' theology, quietly gleeful when we diagnose error, or are we more eager to rejoice in what we have in common with other Christians? Both are crucial. Neither is negotiable. But which is our deepest joy and instinct?


Theological Misfit said...

Great thoughts. I, too, was part of a group that emphasizes "contending for the faith." Each year we had a "separation service" at annual conference to celebrate the groups refusal to "compromise" with any false doctrine. Of course, what started out as healthy separation from those who denied the inerrancy of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the resurrection,and such, it broke into unhealthy separation from others based on secondary doctrine, and then separation from others who didn't separate from others based on secondary doctrine, and so on.

Today I enjoy the theological debates on issues great and small, but I no longer look at others with the same cynicism and doubts about their spiritual condition. (Well, at least not MOST of the time).

Richelle Wright said...

thank you for this!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for this brief yet very powerful reminder. I have a tendency toward this and need to find the right balance between contending for the faith and rejoicing in our shared salvation. Great reminder. Thanks.

MHB said...

Thanks brother for the reminder, to rejoice in our shared salvation.