Orthodoxy, Character, Wisdom, and Witness: An Open Letter to the Free Grace Community -- By: Timothy R. Nichols
CTSJ 12:2 (Fall 2006) p. 101
Orthodoxy, Character, Wisdom, and Witness:
An Open Letter to the Free Grace Community
Timothy R. Nichols received his most significant biblical education from his father, Rev. Edd Nichols, and his mother, Kayleen. He went on to study at Florida Bible College and received his B.S. from Southeastern Bible College. Tim received his Th.M. from CTS in 2004 and is an instructor in the Greek and Theology departments at CTS. He also pastors a church in Hemet, California. His email address is [email protected] yahoo.com.
There has been much debate within the Free Grace community recently about exactly what a person needs to believe in order to be eternally saved. Having effectively silenced us in the wider evangelical community, Satan seems to be seeking to divide and conquer us from within. And to our considerable disgrace, it’s working rather well.
We have doctrinal orthodoxy. All of us. We agree with one another about the death and resurrection of Christ, and the implications of that. We agree that we should share these things with the unbeliever. We disagree about what should be said first, what second, and what third. But when we talk to an unbeliever, the statements we make will all be true.
What we lack, it would seem, is Christian character and Christian wisdom. We lack the wisdom to learn from the lives of those who have gone before us. Church history clearly shows us that controversies involving the development of highly nuanced doctrinal statements take time—a lot of time—before the positions stabilize. We’re talking decades here, not months. The pattern certainly holds true in this discussion; most of the combatants are not saying the same things, in the same ways, that they did even a year ago. Yet we have impatiently and unwisely politicized the issue. In our rush to judgment, we have forced institutional divisions while nearly everyone’s position is still developing. We lack the character to be patient with each other. We lack the character to address long-standing relational sins that disrupt our fellowship; we prefer to divide over the first convenient doctrinal issue that comes along rather than addressing the issues that really divide us. We lack the character to find a practical solution that allows us to continue working together until we can come to agreement—such a solution is available to us, as my continued partnerships with people on both sides demonstrates. Could it be that we don’t accept a solution because we don’t want one? We seem ready to play the hero that banished the heretics from among us, but are we ready to bear the cost of winning our brothers to the truth through a wisdom that is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of me...
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