Updated: Aug 1, 2019
What is more loving? Correcting doctrinal error… or allowing them to continue in error uncorrected? Recently, Tullian Tchividjian (grandson of Billy Graham) tweeted, “I think when I’m old, I’ll wish that I would’ve loved people more and corrected them less.” I completely understand his sentiment, and want to love people more and more.
I decided to ask him a simple question, “Is it loving to allow people to follow the path toward error w/o even trying to correct their trajectory?” He kindly took the time to respond to me with this statement: “Those who always correct what they perceive to be doctrinal error rarely do it because they love the person they’re correcting.”
There’s a sentiment of resentment within that statement towards those who are willing to confront error. In fact, that sentiment is shared by many famous pastors and is trickling down into many pastors throughout the church. Perry Noble has stated that “it is VERY easy to lob accusations and point out problems when you are sitting in your underwear in your mother's basement behind a computer screen…” Rick Warren has stated that, “Bloggers who slander others do Satan’s work for him!” That last statement seemed to imply that bloggers who confront error are slandering, whether or not the pastor they are confronting is doing what is biblical or not.
Now, back to Tullian… One point of concern is his terminology of “what they perceive to be doctrinal error.” Now, this could be simply that he is talking about secondary issues like the order of events during the tribulation or what style of music the church should play during Sunday worship. However, it could also be taken in the complete opposite way to the point of saying that our theological issues are just perceived differences. Modern day theologians tend to lean towards believing that there is no absolute theological truth, and that what one person perceives as truth may not be what another perceives as truth… however, that is ok because truth is relative! This would fall in line with his family’s stance (Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, etc.) who have partnered with all denominations within “Christianity”, including Catholics and Mormons.
Jude 1 tells us “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designed for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” How are we to contend for the faith? John 7:24 tells us, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.” How do we judge with right judgement? Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” You see, we need to contend, judge and correct those who are either teaching false doctrine or following false doctrine away from Christ.
Ultimately, I think he is missing the point of the word love. Love is not just always getting along or simply accepting people as they are. Love is not sitting back and watching as people walk off of a cliff, simply because they didn’t want to cause a scene. Love is grabbing your child before they run out into oncoming traffic. Love is holding someone accountable for their actions so that they learn and become more Christ-like. Love is sharing the Gospel in order to save people from experiencing eternal punishment. Love is correcting theological error in order to bring brothers and sisters in Christ back into the body of Christ. If we do not do these things, we are not loving.
This is an article that was originally posted several years ago. But, like my last post, while the names and events are out of date, the principle is very relevant to what we see happening in the church today.