There is a right way to approach an issue, as well as a wrong way. Particularly as theologians and those who espouse “Free Grace” theology, we must ever be mindful to keep the grace in the message of Free Grace.
Case in point: I had lunch with a friend on Monday. She is a very nice young lady whose background was from a liturgical, Protestant denomination. She had a particular theological issue that she wanted to work through that, at least in my opinion, is not a pillar of evangelical Christian theology. The issue was baptism, and very similar to the brouhaha caused by the disagreement between Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and Ligon Duncan in August 2007. (read all about it in posts here [great place to start] and here; click through their links for the details)
This came to the forefront because this young woman had a great angst about the issue. This angst was not theological or doctrinal. We talked our way through the theological issues pretty well, and discussed the finer points of credobaptism and why a person would be baptized after trusting Christ alone for eternal life. We were on the same page there. The issue, rather, was primarily personal. This very kind young woman had run into a young man who very stridently told her that her view was wrong, and that she was in sin and being ignorant to think that her baptism as an infant was worth anything. This had wounded her deeply and bound the issue of her acceptance of believer’s baptism up with a personal conflict with the young man who had scolded her so harshly.
How unlike the Apostle Paul that kind of interaction was!
“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. ” (Romans 14:13, NAS)
This interaction clearly and unambiguously put a stumbling block in this young woman’s way, and caused her to hold back on following Christ in baptism.
I post this interaction as a reminder to all of us in the Free Grace Alliance to be gracious to one another. Debate and discuss issues of doctrine with fellow believers; be zealous and stand firm for the truth. That said, in all of your interactions be careful that your attitude and your approach do not become a stumbling block to someone accepting the truth of the free offer of eternal life in Christ!
What about you? Have you ever had someone argue with you in a way that turned you away from their cause, even though you might have admitted that there was merit to it? Have you maybe been the ungracious one who needed to go back and ask for forgiveness?