Handling Error In The Church -- By: Martin Downes

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 02:1 (Jan 2010)
Article: Handling Error In The Church
Author: Martin Downes

Handling Error In The Church

Martin Downes

Martin Downes Interviewing Joel R. Beeke

As You Reflect Back To Your Days In Seminary And Early Years In The Ministry, Were There Men Who Started Out With Evangelical Convictions Who Later Moved Away From The Gospel? How Did You Cope With That?

I can only think of a few men with whom I had some personal acquaintance who have fallen from evangelical convictions. Initially, these rare situations shook me—particularly one Reformed brother with whom I studied at Westminster Seminary who embraced Roman Catholicism. Praying for their awakening and return, and for myself that I might not stumble nor look down haughtily upon them, has helped me cope. Then, I suppose, so have the daily challenges of the ministry which press me to keep my hand on the plow and not become overly distracted by an erring brother or two.

I know far more ministerial colleagues—numbering well into the hundreds—who have moved from non-evangelical positions to a solid evangelical and Reformed stance. Many of them suffered greatly, losing large portions, if not all, of their congregations in the process. I have often been profoundly encouraged by their courageous stance to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3).

Have You Ever Been Drawn Toward Any Views Or Movements That Time Has Shown To Have Been Unhelpful Or Even Dangerous Theologically?

By the grace of God, no.

How Should A Minister Keep His Own Heart, Mind, And Will From Theological Error?

  • Keep yourself deeply immersed in the Scriptures, and pray

daily to be willing to surrender all to their inerrant truth.

  • Surround yourself with sound, godly colleagues and lay people who love you sufficiently to be honest with you, so that iron will sharpen iron.
  • Read the best, sound, scriptural, classic books, especially those by the Reformers and Puritans, that address your mind with clarity, convict your conscience with poignancy, bend your wills with conviction, and move your feet with passion.
  • Meditate on those truths preached that do your people the most good; in every case, you will discover that they are biblical truths.
  • Develop the hide of a rhinoceros so that you won’t be tossed about with every criticism and wind of doctrine while maintaining the heart of a child, so that you will be a tender undershepherd to the needy.

Calvin Said That Ministers Have Two Voices. One Is For The Sheep And The Other For Warding ...

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