Home > C. H. Spurgeon, church history, church life, doctrines > The Most Controversial Issues For Christians

The Most Controversial Issues For Christians

February 17, 2012

What are the most controversial issues for Christians today?  In a recent online discussion, a few individuals took this to mean the social topics of the day, such as homosexuality and abortion.  Their point of reference is what’s talked about in the world – “follow the printed media, social media, pulpits , television, apologetics ministries , discernment ministries” – and thus, they reason, these are the issues that are controversial.  One such individual further argued the point with the dictionary definition of “controversial”: showing his understanding of the effect but not the cause of controversy.

But consider the “root cause” of the matter and the underlying issues.  Are cultural issues in the world really debatable points to Bible-believing Christians?  If we really believe God’s word, do we have a problem with understanding that homosexuality is wrong?  The same goes for abortion, or any other social issue that the world is uncertain about:  God’s word does not change, and the true Church of professing believers does not feel the need to debate these issues.  Yes, the “visible” church, which is becoming ever more apostate, including various liberal, organized denominational groups, may argue about those issues.  But that is the world and what we should expect from it.  Or to put it another way: if the people at your local church are divided in opinion about homosexuality, that is a church to flee.

When we look back through Christian history, even to the First Century, we recognize that they too lived in a pagan society where such evils were rampant.  Yet what did the early church fathers discuss, argue, and debate to extremes among themselves?  The nature of Christ (one nature or two natures, his physical body versus his Spirit) and the understanding of the Trinity.  After great persecution in the early fourth century, in which many Christians recanted their faith in order to avoid death, the controversy was whether or not to accept those people back into the fold: a debate so intense that it caused division, bringing forth the Donatists sect with their conservative line against those who recanted under persecution.

In the 19th century Spurgeon led the fight – the controversy among Christians – in the downgrade movement.  See this article, which provides the history of that: again showing what issues have been historically controversial for Christians.  In more recent centuries the controversial issues have included the sovereignty of God in election, the whole Arminian/Calvinist debate, liberalism and modernism.  These issues continue, and many Christians today have a difficult time understanding and accepting many things in God’s word:  God’s sovereignty in election, the extent of the atonement, or the fact that man is responsible even though he can’t do anything apart from regeneration and rebirth which comes only from God.

Now the church has declined to the point that postmodernism and biblical inerrancy have  become controversial.  As John MacArthur recently observed in an interview, the one thing he did not expect to face, when he began his ministry, was a controversy over biblical inerrancy within the church.  Dan Phillips, too, has observed the postmodern trend, what has become controversial for Christians today:  It is grimly fascinating that some Christians abhor the believer who dares to think that he or she knows something from the Word.  To such folks, claiming certainty on any given issue is the height of arrogance. They are certain that certainty is certainly bad.  (God’s Wisdom in Proverbs, by Dan Phillips, p. 132-133)

Behind all the controversies among Christians, though, lies the fundamental cause:  so many Christians do not know their Bible; they do not study it enough. That in turn comes from the sinful hardness and unbelief even among believers, such that often even when some believers do read God’s word they don’t believe that it means what it says.

  1. Sonja
    February 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    This is easily the most important blog posts I’ve read in a long time. Well done and thank you.

  2. February 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Glad you found it helpful, Sonja.

  3. February 16, 2013 at 6:01 am

    Listed as one of your top posts, I thought I’d better read it. I agree emphatically with part of your last paragraph, “Behind all the controversies among Christians, though, lies the fundamental cause: so many Christians do not know their Bible; they do not study it enough.”
    While I may not agree with you on all points, I draw encouragement from the thought that where we are not together, we can at least be together in searching out Scripture that applies and together exploring how we each come to the place we are. I find that believers are the closest to each other as they are close to Scripture.

  4. Ola Michael
    July 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    God’s word no matter how people debate it, can never be altered. God is not a man, He can not change His way because of man. These are the last days, so, people may say or do whatever they want because iniquity now abound but let’s hold on to God’s world. Thank you for the truth you have shown to all. God bless you.

    • July 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Ola! Very true.

  5. Matthew Abate
    September 13, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I like your blog as I’ve hopped from one lily pad (i.e. hip & thigh, dr. reluctant) to the next to get to it. Earlier this year, I left a church plant wherein I observed its rapid, spiritual decline due to its middling view of scripture. Even though the pastor recognized the bible as inspired, he denied that it is without error and sufficient. Many in the church asked me for my reasons in leaving, and I explained in simple terms the doctrinal errors at work by referencing specific passages of scripture. I still pray and intercede for the church because there are some solid believers within its walls. Anyway, keep blogging.

    • September 14, 2013 at 10:00 am

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Matthew! Yes, unfortunately there are many unsound churches out there, that don’t really uphold the word of God, who in practice show a low view of scripture. And like the churches described in Revelation 2-3, there are some solid believers within such churches, who need to continue holding on to what they have.

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