Is Anybody Wrong?

 J. C. Ryle wrote this around 150 years ago (though it could have been written yesterday):

“We live in an age when men profess to dislike dogmas and creeds, and are filled with a morbid dislike to controversial theology.  He who dares to say of one doctrine that ‘it is true’ and of another that ‘it is false’ must expect to be called narrow-minded and uncharitable, and to lose the praise of man.” 

“There is a general tendency to free thought and free inquiry in these latter days…there is a wide-spread desire to appear charitable and liberal-minded: many seem half ashamed of saying that anyone can be in the wrong.”

“There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers: they are incessantly using Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense.  …There is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks cleverly, lovingly, and earnestly, and a determination to forget that Satan is often ‘transformed into an angel of light’ (2 Cor. 2:14).  There is a wide-spread gullibility among professing Christians: every heretic who tells his story plausibly is sure to be believed, and everybody who doubts him is called a persecutor and a narrow-minded man.”

Those are some loaded phrases.  I’ve run into Christians who will tolerate anything and everything in attempt to keep everyone happy.  It seems as if no one can be actually wrong in our culture.  Ryle puts it this way: “Many people will put up with anything in religion, if they may only have a quiet life.  They are possessed with a morbid desire to keep the peace, and make all things smooth and pleasant, even though it be at the expense of the truth.”

Here’s part of Ryle’s answer.

“I believe that to maintain this pure truth [of the gospel] in the church men should be ready to make any sacrifice, to hazard peace, to risk dissension, and run the chance of division.  They should no more tolerate false doctrine than they would tolerate sin.  …Peace without truth is false peace; it is the very peace of the devil.  Unity without the gospel is a worthless unity; it is the very unity of hell.”

These quotes are taken from chapters 5 and 6 of J. C. Ryle’s Warnings to the Churches (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1967).

shane lems