Doctrinal Controversy

In the follow-up to the debate and discussion regarding TGC and Tullian Tchividjian (he has apologized for the way he responded, which reflects in practice the gospel he preaches with his lips), many have wondered about unity among Christians and doctrinal purity.

How pure does doctrine need to be to ensure there is true unity among God’s people? How does one weigh doctrines or discern essential from non-essential doctrines? And essential for what? For epistemology (knowledge/belief), for salvation?

Though theological debate is necessary, there are also accompanying Dangers of Theological Controversy. Nicholas Batzig identifies the following:

There is a danger of infecting others with false teaching – even while trying to refute it.

There is a danger of infecting believers with a hyper-critical spirit.

There is a danger of overreaction to an error and falling into an opposite error.

There is a danger of dumbing-down the severity of error on the opposite side of the debate.

There is a danger of falling into a self-righteous spirit when combating an opponent’s position.

Do you agree with this list? What would you add? What would you subtract? What would you edit?

How do you assess purity and unity, both in doctrinal principle and pastoral practice?

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