"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Every Problem Is Not To Be Disputed

Aristotle once wrote "Every problem and proposition is not to be disputed; they that doubt whether God is to be worshipped, and parents loved, are to be punished, and not disputed with." (Topic 1. 1. c. 9.)

The philosophy of Aristotle is not infallible, but there is something to be said of not wasting one's time or energy in disputing the very existance of God or the responsibility to love one's parents. These natural truths are foundational to civilized living.

On the other hand, Paul says to young Timothy "avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain" (Titus 3:9). There are some things that are so trivial, even in the Christian faith, that we ought not waste our time in disagreement and burn our energy and zeal in seeking to convince each other of the "correctness" of our position.

It would seem to me that the wise person will be able to know what truth is so essential that any dispute over it means immediate disfellowship, and likewise, what truth is so trivial that any dispute over it is a waste of time and even unprofitable for brethren to debate.

If we ignore Aristotle's wisdom, we will eventually tolerate a denial of the Christian faith, but if we deny Paul's wisdom we will fold under the intense weight of zealotry and radicalism built upon the traditions of men.

God save our Convention from both.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Former M said...

Since when does the Bible urge disfellowship over questions of truth definitions? If you re-read Titus, Paul urges disfellowship for those who create dissension by arguing over truth claims. John's letters come closer by defining love as the central motive of true faith and test of fellowship.

Love reaches out to include, though it may also offer correction. That is not the same as disfellowship over truth claims.

Sarah said...

Whoa. Thanks for speaking the words that I have been to cowardly to utter.

C. T. Lillies said...

Good timely points.

Much Grace

Kevin Bussey said...

You mean we should fight over the color of the carpet in the worship center? What will we have to talk about?

John Fariss said...

Only problem is, we are all myopic. "My issue" is always the one worth disputing, "yours" is secondary.

OK, not always. Some Chrstians are mature enough to see that. But all too many of "us" are not.

20+ years ago, I was listening to radio on my way to work one morning when the news came on. They said that the state's new governor had announced his appointment of the head of the ABC Board (I don't know how it is in OK, but Down South, the sale of hard liquor is a state monopoly, operated by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and sold in the "state stores," sometimes called the "greenfront stores" from the institutional green paint used). Normally--even back then--that didn't make too much of an impression on me, but what this guy said was so impressive, I remember it to this day. "We have employees," he began, "who have worked in the state stores for 20 years. But that doesn't necessarily mean they have 20 years of retail experience. What it may mean is that they have one year of retail experience that they have repeated 20 times." Too many Christians--in our churches, and yes, in our agencies and maybe our boards too--have been Christians for 20, 30, maybe 50 years or more; they are smart, they are clever, they know how the syystem works, and they know where the loopholes are at. But they don't have 20, 30, 50 years of Christian maturity. They have one year that they have repeated over and over. They know the language and the catch phrases, but they are not mature Christians. And consequetly, they always think their issue is the one worth disputing.

Dorcas said...

The advice is good, the practical application is difficult. For once we stop arguing over the little things, we will start arguing over where the line is that separates the little things from the major things. That which is minor to one is major to another. Who decides what is a suitable topic for debate versus mere spitting in the wind?

Anonymous said...


In Dr. Mohler's comments on Dr. Page's 30 year old dissertation he asks whether Dr. Page could sign the "Danvers Statement" from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. This seems to be another example of an extra-biblical standard that even goes beyond the direct language of the BFM 2000 regarding the role of pastor being limited to men, as qualified by Scripture.

The fact that Dr. Page has been clear on where he stands and has practiced his convicitions consistently throughout his ministry should elimante the need for further "explaination."

Are our seminary presidents now the theologyical police for SBC life?

Your thoughts.

TruthOfActs said...

Ah, the wisdom of getting along by keeping ears open and mouth shut was never one of my qualities.

Peter and Paul had trouble in that department also. But James was a master of that wisdom. His Book should be studied to learn how a Christian should act but not how one becomes a Christian or remains a Christian.


James was an expert on the law. He seems to brag more than complain when he told Paul his church members and other Christian Jews were zealous of the law. (Acts 21:20)

James got along so good the Pharisees said in Foxes Book of Martyrs (Original), “We and all the people should obey thee.”
“I will show you faith from my works.” What were his works that did not identify him as a Christian to the ones that killed his brother that he rubbed elbows with every day in the Temple? He was the only one allowed in the Holy Place, and was named the Just as his knees were like a camel from praying forgiveness for the people as God had instructed Nazirites to do.

The debate of what God did at Calvary hung in the balance: ‘obey the law’ vs. ‘gift of grace’ until Christ’s brother dropped his “Judgment” and then in the letter to the Gentiles he changed his “Judgment” to “It was the Holy Spirit’s decision.” (Acts 15:28)

For proof: where did all those Catholics come from?

I’m glad it’s not the 15th Century as I’d be burned at the stake. You see, God’s Word is inerrant but because God recorded ignorant words of man in the Bible does not make that ignorance true. If every word was true we would not need the Holy Spirit to teach us to “…properly divide the word of truth.”

Wade, I know this is another comment headed for the trash basket, so I think I’ll add to my blog, “Comments rejected by Wade Burleson.” I’m in a position with you like you are in a position with the IMB. Why won’t the IMB make comments on your blog? Because it would be a no win situation for them—like that coach refusing to play a guy in golf. You didn’t post that comment either.

Rex Ray

Roger Simpson said...


I agree! On some issues even if I "win" the work as a whole is the looser.

I have to subordinate our own "ego trip" and think of the bigger picture. I have to keep reminding myself of this all the time.