A Handy Guide for Navigating Theological Controversies

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For all those interested second-year seminary students who are watching the varied logomachies being undertaken on their behalf by their elders in the gates of Zion, it seems that someone ought to have prepared a handy guide like this long before now. But they haven’t, and you know how it goes. But you can’t tell the players without a scorecard.

In some disputes, the answer to these questions runs along the lines of “neither,” but in those cases it is best to abandon all interest in that dispute anyway and give yourself to a perusal of Monday Night Football.

That said, here are some basic questions to help keep things sorted out:

1. Which side is capable of stating the position of their opposition in terms that the opposition would own and recognize?

2. Which side is threatened and behaves as though it is threatened?

3. Which side has a donor base that would dry up if they did not point to a “threat to the gospel” to keep the money coming in? Which side has a donor base that would dry up if they successfully preserved the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?

4. Which side takes offense when extreme members of their party are answered?

5. Which side behaves as though it is competing for a market share?

6. Which side is characterized by grimness, and which by gladness?

7. Which side resorts to theological dishonesty in representing the arguments and positions of their adversaries? And refuses to be held accountable for it?

8. Which side looks as though they are trying to position themselves to be the next Ligonier when R.C. Sproul retires?

9. Which side resorts to Bulverisms in accounting for the motives of the opposition?

Answer key:

1. Good

2. Bad

3. Bad, bad

4. Bad

5. Bad

6. Bad and good, respectively

7. Bad, bad

8. Really bad

9. Bad, except when insightfully done, as here


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