Perhaps some will say that “the gospel is a person (Jesus), not a doctrine.” This is a false dichotomy. The living word and written word are not enemies, but friends. As much as I agree with presenting the person of Christ, not just flinging concepts at people, Christ must be defined. A content-less Christ will not save anyone.

Just as we saw the word of God is used by people in various ways, similarly Christ is redefined to fit people’s preconceptions. Biblical illiteracy abounds and the possibility of misleading people about Jesus is real. This means that the written word is absolutely necessary to explain who Christ is.

(In our explanations of who Christ is, we do not pit the Gospels against the apostolic letters. Both are equally inspired. Red letter Bibles can be misleading, unless all the sentences [not just those of Jesus] are in red!).

[One famous English preacher] an influential leader in the international Christian community since 1950, has emphasized strong, Biblical teaching [wrote]:

The spirit of our age is very unfriendly towards dogmatic people. Folks whose opinions are clearly formulated and strongly held are not popular. A person of conviction, however, intelligent, sincere and humble he may be, will be fortunate if he escapes the charge of being a bigot. Nowadays the really great mind is thought to be both broad and open – broad enough to absorb every fresh idea which is presented to it, and open enough to go on doing so ad infinitum.

What are we to say to this? We must reply that historic Christianity is essentially dogmatic, because it purports to be a revealed faith. …

The second way in which the spirit of the age is unfriendly towards [my aim] … concerns the modern hatred of controversy. …Perhaps the best way to insist that controversy is sometimes a painful necessity is to remember that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself was a controversialist. He was not “broad-minded” in the popular sense that He was prepared to countenance any views on any subject. On the contrary, Jesus engaged in continuous debate with religious leaders of His day, the scribes and Pharisees, the Herodians and Sadducees.

He said that He was the truth, that He had come to bear witness to the truth, and that the truth would set His followers free. As a result of His loyalty to the truth, He was not afraid to dissent publicly from official doctrines (if He knew them to be wrong), to expose error, and to warn His disciples of false teachers. He was also extremely outspoken in his language, calling them “blind guides”, “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, “whitewashed tombs” and even a “brood of vipers”.

The apostles were also controversialists, as is plain from the New Testament Epistles, and they appealed to their readers to “contend for for the faith which was once delivered to all the saints”. Like their Lord and Master the apostles found it necessary to warn the churches of false teachers and urge them to stand firm in the truth.

Revealed truth is thus likened to a building, and the church’s calling is to be it’s foundation. The church is “the pillar and foundation of the truth”. …However hostile the spirit of the age may be to an outspoken confession of the truth, the church has no liberty to reject its God-given task.[1]

Will Metzger


End notes:

[1] Will Metzger,  Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People [Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2002].

HT: Old