It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. There have been lots of critiques going on against various groups and people that I admire. How do you respond, especially when you sense that some of the critiques have some truth to them?
One of the best answers to this question is found in a message by Tim Keller delivered a number of years ago in the United Kingdom. I’ve been thinking about this message a lot recently, and dug out my summary. Here are some highlights.
- To respond [to critiques], evangelicals must understand and practice biblical repentance as a result of believing the gospel. This will allow evangelicals to admit their sins, even if they disagree with 80% of the criticisms … and even if the remaining 20% is expressed poorly. To the degree that we understand the gospel, we will be able to freely admit our shortcomings as an evangelical movement.
- To the degree that we understand the gospel, we are free to admit the worst about ourselves finally. Repentance isn’t how we get right with God; it’s just the right response. It gives immediate assurance.
- Don’t ever think that we can respond to legitimate criticisms of our practice by defending our doctrine. In defending our doctrines, we have not responded to the criticisms of our practices. Orthopraxy is part of orthodoxy.
- It is necessary to draw boundaries. What really matters is how we treat the people on the other side of those boundaries. People are watching. We’re going to win the younger leaders if we are the most gracious, kind, and the least self-righteous in controversy. The truth will ultimately lose if we hold the right doctrines, but do so with nasty attitudes and a lack of love.
- We need to approach the controversies with a repentant heart corporately and say, “Despite all the bad things that are being said here, there’s a core of truth here and we need to deal with it.”
This paragraph is my absolute favorite:
My dear friends, most churches make the mistake of selecting as leaders the confident, the competent, and the successful. But what you most need in a leader is someone who has been broken by the knowledge of his or her sin, and even greater knowledge of Jesus’ costly grace. The number one leaders in every church ought to be the people who repent the most fully without excuses, because you don’t need any now; the most easily without bitterness; the most publicly and the most joyfully. They know their standing isn’t based on their performance.
Read the rest here.