President's ColumnDr. Luder Whitlock

Building Bridges of Understanding

by Dr. Luder Whitlock

"...if something is good we should embrace it, even if those with whom we differ embrace it -- not to do so is our loss."

I have known a few ornery people -- the kind who insist that black is white or white is black just to disagree. Few people are like that -- thank goodness. But we may often be more reactionary than we imagine, though not so difficult. For example, sometimes Republicans fail to see anything good in Democratic ideas and vice-versa. Politics you say.

But there is more to it than that. During the late nineteenth century, a denomination featured "the cup of cold water" on its letterhead. Yet, after the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy early in this century, resulting in a polarization between believers on several issues and finally culminating in the separation of Fundamentalists from many of the large Protestant denominations, this same denomination removed "the cup of cold water" from its letterhead. They felt constrained to avoid any form of identity with the liberals and their social gospel although it meant removing what had been one of their major distinctives prior to the controversy.

More years passed before a prodigious effort by Carl Henry and a few key evangelical leaders brought a return of social conscience to evangelicals. To this day many evangelicals are still hesitant about being identified with social concern issues or ministries lest they be linked with a social gospel that denies the true Gospel.

Christ faced the same kind of problems. In spite of His miracles and extraordinary teaching that drew huge crowds and was a daily topic of conversation, the Scribes and Pharisees were adamantly opposed to Him. When engaged in conversation with Him, it was not to learn about or honestly assess His ministry, but to find a way to destroy Him. When they had a choice of releasing the hardened criminal, Barabbas, or Jesus, they incited the crowd to release Barabbas (Matt.27:20). After the resurrection, they bribed the guards to say someone stole the body of Jesus so that they could deny He had risen (Matt. 28:11-15).

In view of this sinful tendency, perhaps we should take note and be even more careful regarding our reaction to those with whom we differ. If we are humble and sensitive we may learn much that will benefit us. And we may do so without compromising our own commitments. Besides that, if something is good we should embrace it, even if those with whom we differ embrace it -- not to do so is our loss.

Finally, when we commit to integrity of choice so that our principal concern is to please the Lord, we discover that the truth sets us free. We may also discover a genuine response from the other person that creates unexpected evangelistic opportunity.

While RTS is irrevocably committed to the truth of Scripture, we are also committed to building bridges of understanding, not walls of resistance or moats of isolation. Our integrity may lead us at times to do the unexpected as we attempt to honor our Lord and be faithful to His calling. But our great goal must be to honor Him and advance His work.

- Luder G. Whitlock, Jr.

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Last updated 3-4-1999.