We live in a world that is full of errror. From social media to the break room, we are bombarded with falsehoods and half truths, even from professing believers. We are constantly being tempted to abandon the truth for error in one form or another. Standing faithfully comes at a cost—and it is to the glory of God that there are those still willing to pay that cost.
What those of us who desire to stand must remember is that refutation can never stand on its own, can never be an end unto itself. The refutation of error is no safer a foundation for faith than is error itself. The temptation to compromise is real; the temptation to allow our beliefs and priorities to be shaped by our opposition to whatever it is we detest is not less so. When our focus shifts to our strategy of opposition, we begin to judge others, not by how close they are to the truth, but by how far away they are from those we are opposing. Yet strong opposition to a particular error is no guide at all to someone’s overall theological faithfulness. It is quite possible to be strongly opposed to error and yet remain as far away from the truth as the error we oppose.
Left unchecked over time, this shift of focus will inevitably distort our view of God and of the world He has made. If the difficult work of theological thinking is only done in the context of defeating those whose positions we oppose, or even those whose persons we simply dislike, that thinking will become increasingly out of balance with each passing year. In the very long run, we run the danger of becoming a mirror image of falsehood rather than a reflection of the truth.
Theology, if it is to remain faithful, must be done for its own sake. It must be done in order to deepen our knowledge of the God that we serve and worship—because to know the true God truly is what it means to have eternal life. It must be done because it is true, not because it is useful. If the only time we pay attention to theology is when we are attacking those who oppose our brand of it, then it is difficult to say credibly that it is the truth of our beliefs that is the source of our passion.
Long range faithfulness is only possible when the truth of what we do believe becomes vastly more important to us than the destruction of those whose beliefs we oppose. This applies across the board. Attacking our theological opponents will not keep our theology faithful. Slamming the ungodly does little for our own sanctification. If we are to reflect the truth in both theory and practice, it must always be the understanding of truth, not the destruction of those we see as opposing it, that takes pride of place in our hearts. Though we must never cease to oppose the errors of our day, that opposition must always be founded on a far greater passion for the truth itself.