Thursday, August 24, 2006

Whom Should We Quote?

Over at Pyromaniacs I ran into an interesting article several days ago. In dealing with guilt by association (hereafter referred to as GBA) they got into a discussion about a situation where John MacArthur quoted a liberal theologian. I have some personal experience with this type of thing.

One of the most horrifying examples of this type of thing occurred last year. I was listening to a wonderful message by the ever eloquent and loquacious Church Swindol. He preached on of the best messages on the inerrant inspiration of the Word of God that I have ever heard. He could have preached it at the most fundamental of fundamentalist churches or schools and they would have been pleased. Well, that is, until he got to the close. He closes out with a story about Karl Barth telling some friends that the most profound thing he has learned in life is: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." Now, how do you finish a sermon on the inspiration of the Bible with a quote by the poster-boy of Neo-Orthodoxy?

The situation that TeamPyro is discussing is altogether different. There is nothing wrong with quoting from liberals and apostates. The problem with bad theology is rarely total error. It is the problem of 99% pure water mixed with the 1% pure poison. And since we are talking about what men have said and written it is fairly easy to glean some of the good stuff from bad theologians.

The problem is when men like Barth and Bonhoeffer get quoted in glowing terms that make them sound like great Christians. The thing to get upset about is when such men are held up as exemplars of the Christian life and are called great men of God.

But the issue at hand is how to deal with quoting from such men. First, I would say, that my own pastor does not need to give a disclaimer every time he quotes from some shady theologian. I know where he is and as long as he is not praising liberals I am happy for him to quote pretty much whomever he wishes. Second, when I listen to men like John MacArthur, John Piper, or Chuck Swindol, I listen fairly critically. I am not under the weekly pastorate of these men so I am not as familiar with them. Therefore, I listen and the warning light comes on when they quote from apostates. Again, as long as they are not making out over such men I can accept that.

The bottom line is that I worry if my pastor is moving into error. If some guy on the radio or podcast is preaching a lot of crazy stuff I shut him off and stop listening. I don't think we need to have the big tabloid exposé in the blogosphere every time someone says something that sounds a little off to us!

1 comment:

ricky said...

good post Jon. I might quote you, but I have to be careful who I quote you to. :)