The Doctor: There’s Too Much “Speaking the Truth in Love”

“What matters, we are told, is that a man should have ‘the spirit of Christ’ and that he should desire to imitate Christ’s example. That makes him a Christian! Doctrinal correctness, they maintain, has been over-emphasized in the past. A man may be shaky on the very Person of Christ may not believe in the doctrine of the Atonement, or in the Virgin birth, or in the literal physical resurrection of our Lord, but if he has an open mind, and is tolerant of other opinions, and is kind and friendly and ‘gracious’ and concerned about others, and especially about suffering and need and anxious to right all wrongs, political and social, he is a true Christian. What a man is, and does, we are told, is of much greater importance than his doctrinal views. Moreover, it is argued, nothing but a demonstration of this so-called ‘Christian spirit’ will have any effect upon those outside the Church who have no interest whatsoever in doctrine. Indeed, to hold doctrinal views strongly and to criticize other views is virtually regarded as sinful and is frequently described as being ‘sub-Christian’. This is how the phrase ‘speaking the truth in love’ is being commonly interpreted.

It would be very easy to give some remarkable and almost astonishing illustrations of what I am saying. For instance, it is quite amusing to notice how a well-known reviewer of religious books, when he comes across any criticism of other views in the book he is reviewing, immediately criticizes the spirit of the author. That seems to be his one test of scholarship! ‘Scholarship’ has come to mean that you find all views very interesting, and that there is something to be said for all points of view. If you want to be regarded as scholarly you must not say that one view is right and the other wrong; you must not criticize, for to criticize is to deny the spirit of Christ, and to be entirely devoid of love. ‘Speaking the truth in love’ has come to mean that you more or less praise everything, but above all, that you never criticize any view strongly, because, after all, there is a certain amount of right and truth in everything.” —D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Christian Unity, (Baker Book House, 1987) p. 243

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