I have started this blog in order to give me some way to express publicly my dismay at the way in which (evangelical and Reformed) Christians often treat other (evangelical and Reformed) Christians.
When I was fired from a previous job, a good friend gave me a copy of Gene Edwards’ book, CRUCIFIED BY CHRISTIANS. I found that book very helpful. It is my (possibly very naïve) hope that I can at least provide some support for others who have been – or believe they have been – “crucified by Christians.”
That’s my purpose.
At this beginning point, I would like to describe the specific theological position which will inform what I say. This is a quotation from another Edwards – Jonathan to be exact – and this book, TREATISE ON RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS, is, in my judgment, the best ever written by a human being.
We – especially we who are theologically conservative and Reformed – seem to love a good theological fight. This has always been true since the Reformation itself . . . and it was certainly true during Jonathan Edwards’s lifetime when one of the greatest fighting among Christians occurred in the context of what we now call “The Great Awakening.”
Here is exactly what Edwards says about that fight and, by extension, about the fights which seem to consume the (Reformed and evangelical) church today. This will be the kind of perspective that I seek to apply to our ways of handling disagreements over such issues as the days of Creation, the Insider Movement, the role of women in church leadership, worship music, etc., etc.:
But here some may be ready to say, Is there no such thing as Christian fortitude, and boldness for Christ, being good soldiers in the Christian warfare, and coming out boldly against the enemies of Christ and his people?
To which I answer, There doubtless is such a thing. The whole Christian life is compared to a warfare, and fitly so. And the most eminent Christians are the best soldiers, endued with the greatest degrees of Christian fortitude. And it is the duty of God’s people to be steadfast and vigorous in their opposition to the designs and ways of such as are endeavoring to overthrow the kingdom of Christ, and the interest of religion. But yet many persons seem to be quite mistaken concerning the nature of Christian fortitude. It is an exceeding diverse thing from a brutal fierceness, or the boldness of the beasts of prey.
True Christian fortitude consists in strength of mind, through grace, exerted in two things; in ruling and suppressing the evil and unruly passions and affections of the mind; and in steadfastly and freely exerting, and following good affections and dispositions, without being hindered by sinful fear, or the opposition of enemies. But the passions that are restrained and kept under, in the exercise of this Christian strength and fortitude, are those very passions that are vigorously and violently exerted in a false boldness for Christ.
And those affections that are vigorously exerted in true fortitude, are those Christian, holy affections that are directly contrary to them. Though Christian fortitude appears, in withstanding and counteracting the enemies that are without us; yet it much more appears, in resisting and suppressing the enemies that are within us; because they are our worst and strongest enemies, and have greatest advantage against us. The strength of the good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more, than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness, and benevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries, strange behavior, and surprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable world. The Scripture seems to intimate that true fortitude consists chiefly in this: Prov. 16:32, “He that is slow to anger, is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city.”
Edwards’s – and my – point will be to urge us all, starting with myself, to “image” a lamb more than we do “a beast of prey.”
Sam Logan is a minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the International Director of the World Reformed Fellowship, though neither of these is responsible for the comments above. To hold accountable to one who IS responsible, write to firstname.lastname@example.org