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that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” ( I Pet. 3:15)
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Editorial
April 2011
CONFLICT!

     If you are looking for politically correct, watered-down, tickle-the-ear, goo-filled pablum, then this publication is not for you.  If you think it is a waste of time to discuss doctrine, to earnestly contend for the faith, or defend the gospel of Christ then the Christian Apologist is not what you seek.  If you think it is more important that we "all just get along" than it is to stand for the truth, then we have no common ground.  If you think it is not Christ-like to take a stand against error or those who peddle it, if you view Christ as a flower-laden, “make love not war” hippie, then, please, by all means, feel free to excuse yourself now.  If this first paragraph offends you, then you will probably want to read no further.

      This publication will aim to defend Biblical inerrancy at every level as best it can (Phil. 1:17).  A defense is necessitated because of the unceasing and unrestrained attack upon Jehovah and His Christ (Psalm 2:1-3).  This is not a new conflict.  Sacred history records the battles of this holy war from the dawn of creation and foretells it’s continued execution till the conquering Christ reigns in ultimate victory.  We are but the latest participants in it.  We claim no special right to engage the battle except that which is obligatory upon all who profess the name of Christ--to earnestly contend of the faith (Jude 3).  This we happily do to the best of our own feeble abilities.

     A strong defense requires that we press the issues hard enough to make an impression, rattle cages strongly enough to dislodge some long-held but erroneous beliefs, and stand up unwaveringly for principle in spite of an apathy that chokes out reason.  Naturally, there will be casualties.  Some feelings will get hurt, unfortunately, because cold, hard facts are not soft and cuddly comfort toys.   Conflicts are never pretty events.  But this does not mean that they are not necessary or useful (Eph. 6:1-20).

      Generally, it is the position of those on the left that all conflicts are to be avoided at all cost (unless, of course, it is to their advantage not to do so or they are trying to stop the advance of the right--for the left has no basic, immutable principles that are not subject to change if it suits their goals at the time).  It is the view of a growing number in our society who have accepted this false premise that to engage in conflict to any degree is wrong.  Sadly, I am afraid, many, even in the Lord's church, have adopted the view that we should never be in conflict with each other or with the world.  In their view, it seems, we must disregard important doctrinal differences and work together irrespective of those differences for a so-called “greater good.”   Some apparently hold that even the damnable doctrinal errors of the denominational world are to go overlooked and unchallenged so that we may work together on   “more important” social projects and various other humanitarian activities.  They say--or at least tacitly imply--it is more important that we all get along, that we do not rock the boat, so to speak, than it is to teach the truth.

     This view is simply dead wrong.  It is not only unscriptural but it is also very dangerous.  All throughout the Old Testament, the Lord had His people fight and defeat the enemies of Truth.  They were to "utterly destroy the Amalakites" (I Sam. 15:18).  Paul went into the very heart of the pagan world and boldly declared that he "whom ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you" (Acts 17:22,2).  Jesus called the scribes and the Pharisees "hypocrites" and overthrew the money-changers tables (Matt. 23:13; John 2:14).  We are to be set for the defense of the gospel and earnestly contend for the faith (Phil.1:17; Jude 3).  

     It goes without saying that we do not fight because we love to fight.  It is clearly understood that a love for God and the souls of men and the putting on the character of the Son of God should motivate us to "speak the truth in love."  But we are still to speak the truth (Eph. 4:15).  Certainly we are to let our speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, but we are to answer every man nontheless (Col. 4:16).  There can be no doubt that we are to answer with meekness and fear, but we are nevertheless to give reasons for the hope that lies within us (I Pet. 3:5). It is incumbent upon every child of God to array themselves with the whole armor of God and wage headlong into the battle for the souls of men (Eph. 6:10ff).  This we do for the love of truth.

     Regrettably, in this endeavor, we might sometimes find ourselves pitted against those with whom most--indeed, we ourselves--would think we should naturally stand shoulder to shoulder.  But things are not always what they seem.  And no wonder, for even satan transforms himself into an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14).  It is the nature of evil to present itself as good, for it has no sustainable life in and of itself.  It is parasitic, sucking the life-blood out of the faithful.  Thus, we cannot accept something just because it presents itself as good, or because it might benefit us, or because those whom we like believe it.  All things, and all actions, must be measured against the standard of God's revealed word-revelation to man, the Bible (II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1).  In our defense of the truth there is nothing personal, no axe to grind, no scores to settle.  We harbor no ill will toward anyone.  Our only goal is to advance the truth and defeat error.  

     The truth of the matter is that conflict is both necessary and good.  We live in a world that is left wrecked by sin.  It is truly a “sin-cursed world,” a phrase that was oft used in the past by our brethren.  Some people are loathe to admit it but there is real evil in the world and real, evil people.  satan is real.  Sin is real.  There is such a thing as doctrinal error (II John 9).  Some people may just be honestly mistaken, but there are others who maliciously spout venom-filled lies (Tit. 1:10-16).  Sticking our head into the sand does not change that reality.  But that is the way that many, if not most, both in and out of the Lord’s church, react to error.  Some apparently believe that if we just ignore the error, then that will so impress the individual holding the error that he will change his evil ways.  This is so very naive.  Or it is malicious misdirection.  Occasionally, honestly mistaken people will change (otherwise they become dishonest), but only when they are exposed to the truth.  But in all cases, whether the individual is honest or not, the truth must be spoken and this will result in conflict.  It is not the truth that causes conflict, but the error (I Kings 18:17,18).  It is both necessary and good that error be confronted and it is imperative that truth emerge triumphant and error die an ignoble death.

     Finally, on a very personal note, I certainly do not claim perfection.  It may be that I find myself in error.  If that is the case, then I hope and pray that someone will have compassion enough to teach me out of my error.  I only want to be right with God.  --ELP







Copyright Eric L. Padgett  03-30-2012
Christian Apologist