Amazing Grace in Controversy

John Newton, writer of the famous hymn, Amazing Grace, once wrote a letter to a fellow pastor who was preparing to publish an article, in the name of truth, criticizing the errors of another minister. How many of us have felt the powerful conviction to confront false teaching and defend truth? Seeing what has happened in this part of Saskatchewan over the past several months, regarding the controversy over the “Emerging Church Movement,” I know there are a number of folks who could learn from Newton’s words.

But his words hold a timeless wisdom for any of us who find ourselves in conflict with others (and that’s definitely all people who draw breath). This has been so helpful for me to apply to my own heart as I have both conflict and controversy to deal with. I hope you who read this find it helpful as well.

(I learned about Newton’s letter from this article by Keith Mathison at Ligonier Ministries; I found Mathison’s article through this February 20 blog post by Mark Lauterbach at his GospelDrivenLife blog.)

Here are a couple of excerpts to whet your appetite. Click the above link to read the whole blog post by Mathison.

“Selfrighteousness can feed upon doctrines as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace. Yea, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule, and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments.”

“If we act in a wrong spirit, we shall bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow creatures, and procure neither honor nor comfort to ourselves. If you can be content with showing your wit, and gaining the laugh on your side, you have an easy task; but I hope you have a far nobler aim, and that, sensible of the solemn importance of gospel truths, and the compassion due to the souls of men, you would rather be a means of removing prejudices in a single instance, than obtain the empty applause of thousands. Go forth, therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord of hosts, speaking the truth in love; and may he give you a witness in many hearts that you are taught of God, and favored with the unction of his Holy Spirit.”