Diving into Controversial Issues

Diving into Controversial Issues

Several years ago, Zondervan came up with the brilliant marketing strategy of a series of books covering controversial issues in the Christian life. They are called the Counterpoint Series. The format is to take a “controversial” topic such as baptism, the rapture, inerrancy, predestination, etc. (what topic is not controversial?!) and invite a group of scholars, holding different positions on the topic, to present their best arguments for and against other views. I have to admit, these can be fun and stimulating books to read.

Some examples:

  • Three Views of Baptism
  • Three Views of the Rapture
  • Four Views of Hell
  • Two Views on Women in Ministry
  • Four Views on Eternal Security
  • Four Views on the Book of Revelation
  • Four Views on a Historical Adam
  • Four Views on Divine Providence

While these can be fascinating book to read (I’ve read a number of them), there is a downside. Such books can lead a person to become a cautious skeptic about adopting a firm view on any and every topic. They can lead a person to rationalize that, since there are “godly people on all sides of these issues,” then it doesn’t really matter what we personally believe. They can lull us into believing a terrible lie: that theology doesn’t really matter all that much. That whatever we believe about any given issue, there are “godly saints” who believe contrary, so why does it really matter? After all, aren’t the various scholars writing these chapters far smarter than most of us? Who are we to adopt a firm position when so many arguments can marshaled to the contrary? In short, Zondervan’s series can lull us into becoming complacent agnostics on a wide variety of important topics.

This is a dangerous place to land. Why? Because truth matters. Because it does matter what we believe on all of these issues—not necessarily to the same degree on each of them, but they all carry consequences. It does matter what we believe about inerrancy, the role of women, and baptism. These are not just marginal issues that do not impact us personally and as a church; what we believe about each of these issues will have massive implications for us personally, our marriage, our parenting, our family, and our church. So take up and read, but do not let such books lull you into apathy. Do not let them lull you into a lazy agnosticism. Let them challenge, stir, and lead you into a humble, but firm advocacy of the truth. After all, there cannot be four correct views on all these issues. Someone is wrong! And that will have consequences down the road.

by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor