One of the first sound sermons of my Christian walk was Paul Washer's "Shocking Youth Message". My mind was blown. Shortly after this, my husband found an evangelism boot camp that taught "The Way of the Master" as its resource for training believers and we began attending the church. This church had a heavy emphasis on bible reading, evangelism, and apologetics. While we were there we were connected with some believers that introduced us to preachers such as Todd Friel, Voddie Baucham, and more. Not only that, but they would share with us warnings about false teachers and their dangerous teachings.
This caused me to really seek out God's Word in its proper context and to examine these false teachers statements more carefully. God was gracious to grow us a lot during this time. However, I found myself dealing with something that I see many among reformed circles struggling with: pride and severe criticism.
It seems most memorable that this attitude began around the time I accepted the doctrines of grace, also known as Calvinism. Now, please don't misunderstand me. I still hold to those truths as God has opened my eyes to the Scriptures and I am convinced that they are biblical. It is merely the clearest reference point I can recall and see where this shift was taking place in my life.
We moved to relocate for my husband's job and found an amazing church. However, I found myself looking for errors in the preacher's sermon. I would ask my husband what he thought of this one comment the pastor made. I would be met with a gently rebuke from my husband that I was overreaching and making something out of nothing. I also found myself being more critical towards Arminians, even suggesting that they may unknowingly be trusting in works for their salvation.
Well, the Lord convicted me of this. I began to see that I had become a type of theology police that was just waiting to spot someone's mistake so that I could join with the troops and cast my judgment among the lot of them. I had very little grace towards others I deemed doctrinally inferior. To put it bluntly: I was being self-righteous.
Why am I sharing this personal account of me showing a very sinful attitude? Because it isn't just me that has dealt with this and it needs to be addressed. I see many who, like me, are waiting in the wings to denounce "ANY" teaching they deem to have a shred of error. Even preachers and teachers who have been solid for decades I see people disowning over one statement that they did not agree with. And not statements where Scripture is clear either.
I am posting this because I want to encourage you if you have had this attitude to repent. There are many false teachers out there spewing their lies even when shown truth clearly. However, a difference of opinion on Scripture shouldn't be an immediate dismissal of a brother or sister from fellowship. Calvinists and Arminians can both be believers. Cessationists and Continuationists can both be believers. We need to quit making everything an essential and be willing to extend grace, even when we do believe our doctrinal viewpoint to be the biblically correct one.
I also want to encourage you to discuss these issues. No one is saved with a perfect theology at the start. God grows our knowledge as we grow as believers. Talk with people you believe are in error in love, in gentleness and always with Scripture. And be willing to extend grace if they don't immediately embrace your interpretation of Scripture. God used many in my life to share truth in love when I was in error.
Lastly, I want to leave you with this verse. This should be our motivation for discussing truth with brethren and with how we respond to those who are of the faith but who we disagree with on non-essentials. Remember that there is a difference between those who are teaching a false gospel and misrepresenting God blantantly, and those who are genuine believers, but may be immature in their faith or haven't grown in understanding of a certain teaching of Scripture. Please don't treat both as if they are one and the same. God bless you
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35, ESV