1Tim6.2 Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.
What is the Apostle Paul speaking of when he speaks of Christian controversy? Was Martin Luther “puffed up with conceit”? The Catholic Church certainly stated that he was. Is every Christian that challenges the local congregation “puffed up with conceit”? How do we understand a challenge for the truth? These are important questions.
Richard Ostella offers his insight to this verse. “Of what then is Paul speaking when he mentions the disagreement with the sounds words of Christ? What is at work in the different doctrine that is not according to image-bearing godliness? It is a posture of heart. It is a frame of mind affecting all their thoughts. Their understanding is empty (they understand nothing, v. 4), they are depraved in mind, and they are deprived of truth (v. 5, the teachers are in the same category as the people they teach). Because Paul speaks of a mindset, it is difficult to restrict the ignorance in view of religious matters or biblical teaching (cf. Eph. 4:17–18, they are darkened in their understanding; Rom. 1:18–25, they exchanged the truth of God that they know by means of created factuality for a lie)”.[i] Therefore, the mindset that disqualifies even partial knowledge from true knowledge is the assertion of, and commitment to, human autonomy.[ii] The standard on which this philosophy grounds itself is twofold: “the traditions of men” and “the elementary principles of this world.” In these two phrases, we have man-centeredness not God-centeredness and creature-centeredness instead of Creator-centeredness respectively.[iii]
There is a distinction that can be made. The key phrase is that “they understand nothing”; not just religious matters but in all matters of instructions for understanding. Martin Luther was not without all understanding. Martin Luther made many errors, even great errors in understanding his Bible. But Luther knew the instructions of Christ and the basics of faith and that understanding saved the Church and brought faith out of the middle ages of darkness.
Christian truths and practices must be contended for; it is a Christian duty, Jude.3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
Contending for the faith can and will be controversial. When it is Peter gives us the instructions to follow; 2Peter1.5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
[i] Ostella, R. (2007). Epistemic Circularity, Christian Virtue, and Truth. In R. A. Morey (Ed.), Journal of Biblical Apologetics: Volume 10 (R. A. Morey, Ed.) (56). Orange, CA: California Biblical University and Seminary.
[ii] Ostella, R. (2007). Epistemic Circularity, Christian Virtue, and Truth. In R. A. Morey (Ed.), Journal of Biblical Apologetics: Volume 10 (R. A. Morey, Ed.) (57). Orange, CA: California Biblical University and Seminary.
[iii] Ostella, R. (2007). Epistemic Circularity, Christian Virtue, and Truth. In R. A. Morey (Ed.), Journal of Biblical Apologetics: Volume 10 (R. A. Morey, Ed.) (57). Orange, CA: California Biblical University and Seminary.
Published on Sunday, March 18, 2012 @ 8:12 AM CDT