The Most Controversial Issues For Christians
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.