Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
On Theological Controversies- From John Newton
I recently finished reading Newton on the Christian Life (see my review here), a book about John Newton’s pastoral theology. John Newton worked on slave ships but after his conversion worked to help end slavery in the British Empire. His pastoral theology had great depth, as evidenced in this quote on theological controversies, published in a newspaper during a particularly bitter debate between Arminians and Calvinists:
[B]efore you engage in debate, you must take heed of your opponent. He is an eternal creature. If he is not a Christian… he warrants your deepest pity, kindness, and prayers… If, however, your theological opponent is a genuine Christian, think about your future together in heaven.” (Kindle Location 5460, cited below)
Think about that for a moment. Your “debate opponent” will be together with you in heaven forever. This isn’t someone you can hide comfortably from behind a keyboard. You’ll meet one way or another. How do you think you should treat this child of God?
But that’s not all. Newton’s advice applies even moreso if the debate is against someone who is not a Christian, for they “warrant… your deepest pity, kindness, and prayers.” What kind of Christians are we if our theological debates drive people away from Christ (another theme in Newton’s pastoral theology)?
We should keep in mind Newton’s advice as we engage others; all of whom bear the image of God.
Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)
Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life (Downers Grove, IL: Crossway, 2015).