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Evangelicals & Bulwarking

In the Essentials, we must have Unity

In the Non-Essentials, we must Liberty

In Everything, we must Charity

I have no Creed but Christ

Doctrine Divides

Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? Amos 3:3

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

To my great chagrin, it seems more and more professing Evangelicals believe it is more Christlike to emphasize love and relationships than upon truth or doctrine.

I am not 100% positive any of my English teachers would approve of me using bulwark in the literary fashion I employ in the blog title, but so be it. My race, my pace, so to speak.

We have seen the battle lines drawn as the Pastor Alistair Begg controversy is discussed in Evangelical circles. Noted Pastor Begg counseled a grandmother she should attend her grandson’s same-sex marriage when she sought his pastor's counsel as to what she should do in relationship to attending her grandson’s same-sex wedding.

Begg's counsel created a firestorm within the Evangelical community and, in my opinion, deservedly so. Over two hundred radio stations dropped Begg from their programming, and Pastor Begg was disinvited to Pastor John MacArthur’s annual Shepherds Conference.

Begg’s defense rested upon his belief it was more helpful for the Gospel’s sake for the grandmother to display love and compassion than to risk the alienation of a grandson who was participating in a same-sex marriage by the grandmother not attending the same-sex ceremony.

I believe a false dichotomy is being advanced due to shotty thinking, aka Stinkin Thinkin, and Satanic influence as if Evangelicals must choose between a dogged commitment to truth or to display love as the overriding principle.

I submit for your consideration, in concert with a Ligioner conference presentation by Pastor Burk Parsons, that it is wholly possible to be doggedly dogmatic, to be unapologetically dogmatic, and to display true and biblical humility simultaneously.

Many in the Evangelical community [I care not one iota what the non-professing world believes] erroneously view dogmatism as a purely pejorative disposition.  Of course, dogmatism, when displayed in a haughty, judgmental, holier-than-thou context, should be condemned with all of one’s vigor.

But being dogmatic about what is clearly and explicitly proclaimed in Holy Scripture is demanded if Evangelicals are to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the Saints if Evangelicals take the admonition of Jude seriously (see Jude 1:3).

One of my heroes, the late Dr. R.C. Sproul, told of the story of one of his professors scolding him in front of the entire class for his belief that Jesus Christ was the only way to God.

The professor eviscerated Sproul for his narrow-minded and alleged intolerant position. Sproul talked of his embarrassment and subsequent meeting with the professor after class.

It was during this meeting that Sproul masterfully explained how his position was only the position he understood Jesus Christ to have made Himself during His Earthly ministry.

Following Sproul‘s unassailable logic, if a Christ follower were to deny an express teaching of the very Person they believed to be God in the flesh, then it would be a logical inconsistency and theological cowardice of the first degree-.

You see, when Evangelicals express dogmatism correctly, Evangelicals are only doing so because logical consistency and biblical fidelity demand we do so.

To do otherwise would be a grievous disobedience, in a word, sin: wanton and utterly shameful.  Upon death, following this pagan devotion to always promoting love over truth will not garner “Well done, thy good and faithful servant” when the professing Evangelical enters eternity and comes before the Judgment of Jesus Christ.

As I blog, I seek to address only issues God explicitly reveals in His Word. My book, Weighed and Found Wanting, focuses on what I call the Big Three:

  • Abortion

  • Marriage

  • Gender

I consciously choose not to delve into secondary theological issues, where Evangelicals have wisely understood the wisdom of giving broad room to other Brothers and Sisters who come to different landing spots yet maintaining collegiality and heartfelt fellowship.

Dr. Sproul and Dr. John MacArthur were lifelong Brothers in Arms for the Gospel yet disagreed on their Eschatology and Ecclesiology.

George Whitfield and John Wesley vehemently disagreed regarding Soteriology but maintained fond affections for one another.

I am sure you might be aware of other examples, maybe in your own personal relationships. As long as the differences do not affect first-order doctrine, there is no conflict with “how can two walk together unless they agree.”

It is only when we demure from first-order biblical doctrines that we must hold the line and depart ways.

The Evangelical church has done a pretty good job of delineating the first-order principles from the secondary and tertiary ones.

So, if I am my brother’s keeper [and I am], I will not shy away from risking our relationship if what is at stake is a first-order biblical doctrine.

God warned the Prophet Ezekiel twice in the Book of Ezekiel [Ezekiel 3:17; Ezekiel 33:9] that if Ezekiel did not warn his brother, their blood would be upon his head.

Penn from Penn and Teller created a YouTube video asking the provocative question: How much would a Christian have to hate a person not to tell them the truth if Christians really believed that Jesus Christ was the only way to God and to avoid eternal HellFire?

So I am convinced the most loving thing I can do as a Christ-follower is to, with all humility, nonetheless dogmatically stand upon God’s Truth concerning first-order biblical, doctrinal issues without apology, all day, errday, and twice on Sundays.

Will doing so subject me to allegations of being unloving or intolerant or narrow-mindedness or worse?

Most assuredly, but I remain undeterred because I believe the emphasis, if there truly is one, is always upon Truth. God’s Holy Writ admonishes the reader to speak the truth in love, not to lovingly speak the truth.

I reject the notion that word selection is inconsequential, random, or interchangeable.

God’s Truth is objective

One’s perception/reception of love is subjective

When a person correctly proclaims/interprets God’s Word, that proclamation/interpretation can be objectively verified.

When a person responds to that same proclamation, that response is always subjective.

God’s declaration of same-sex marriage as abominable is objectively knowable and understandable.

Man’s justification to attend same-sex marriage is subjectively derived knowledge and injurious to all participants: officiating officials, the entire bridal party, and guests.

In passing, let me address how it is possible to be dogmatic while displaying humility. Think with me back to the Sproul story with his professor.

Sproul’s position did not originate with Sproul. Sproul was only acquiescing to the express revelation of Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity.

Now, if Sproul’s position was that he was correct because that is what Sproul believed, then what we have is hubris on steroids, but Evangelicals are confident this is not what Sproul was doing.

When Evangelicals stand firm upon God’s explicit teachings, there is no legitimate charge of hubris to be levied, for Evangelicals not to stand firm when God has clearly spoken is to invite God’s strong hand of rebuke and stern judgment.

I submit the quandary is pretty simple for Evangelicals seeking to remain faithful to the Word of God: Run into conflict with God or Man.

I know which option I choose: period, full-stop, end of story.

In the words of Delino Squires, we need more Lions, not house cats.

Again, this is a classic case where more can said, but I trust I have asked you to engage with me long enough.

I close with the following queries:

Are you a lion/lioness for Jesus Christ, or are you choosing to be a house cat, shrinking into the background, avoiding letting your voice be heard in your sphere of influence, in the marketplace of ideas?

I plant my flag to continue to be a bulwark for the Word of God regarding first-order biblical issues like abortion, marriage & gender.

I will lose influence and popularity and subject myself to marginalization, scorn, and dismissal. Still, I believe this mode gives me the best opportunity to hear my Savior greet on the other side of the veil with “Ricky, Well Done!”

I want always to be as loving as biblically possible. I will most certainly fall short in this pursuit as all others have done except the Man, Jesus Christ. That is why prayers for wisdom must be a consistent component of the Evangelical’s prayer life.

May God grant all professing Evangelicals the wisdom to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

As usual, let me know what you think. Until then, keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.

With fear and trembling,

Ricky V Kyles Sr. DEd.Min

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