One of the things that used to frustrate me was to read or hear some theology promoted by a respected bible scholar that differed from a theology I had called my own. I would attend a conference and hear something from one scholar and compare it to something I heard or read by another. Why do they have to differ on things? Why can’t they all agree on everything? Do we take sides and oppose those who do not agree with a certain theology? Now I am only talking about secondary theological issues. For example I am not talking about a comparison of someone who believes in the Trinity and someone who does not. The one who does not believe in the Trinity should be opposed because it completely undermines the teaching of scripture. I am writing more about the differences such as amillennial vs. pre-millennial, or a non-cessationist vs. a cessationist.
I am reading through 1 Corinthians and Paul addresses this latter kind of opposition in the church in 1 Corinthians chapter 3. He starts out by addressing the issue of those in the Corinthian church who support the teaching of one apostle like Paul and oppose the teaching of another such as Cephas or Peter. What was happening in the church was Paul would come and teach and evangelize the church and then he would be gone. Then someone else like Apollos would come along and teach with a differing style or pet theology, much like those scholars mentioned above, and the members would create a source of opposition to those who followed the personal teaching of Paul. Paul is writing here to rebuke this opposition in the church. In verses 21-23 of the same chapter Paul encourages the church by writing this:
21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
“All are yours” Paul writes. Based on my research with some commentaries, and using info from a lecture by Tim Keller at Covenant Seminary, I believe Paul is saying don’t fret or be unhappy with the teachings you are not comfortable with but rejoice in that all of the teachers are yours. Learn from each of them, for they are all sent by God. I remember something profound I learned while listening to the audio of a conversation between Mark Dever, Dr. Albert Mohler, C, J. Mahaney, and Ligon Duncan as part of the Together For The Gospel Conference. These four biblical scholars were talking around the idea that they each have some differing views and interpretations of some passages of scripture, but what they have come together, and fully agree on: a high view of scripture, a high view of God, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The other differing issues are secondary to the furtherance of the Gospel. I genuinely loved hearing that and it helped me understand what’s more important.
As believers we have many gospel heros in our theology circles. Let’s try to remember to rejoice that we agree on what the gospel is. As for the secondary issues, what’s wrong with a little healthy debate? We…..um…I may learn something.