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Should the Church and its Ministers be Controversial?

  • Bill Ellis ASSIST News Service
  • Published Jun 20, 2007
Should the Church and its Ministers be Controversial?
The message of the church is controversial, depending on which side of the morality fence you may be standing. If preachers are deemed to be controversial it will depend on whose gospel they are preaching.

Franklin Graham recently said, speaking of Dr. Jerry Falwell, “Jerry was portrayed by the media as a controversial figure, but I knew him as a friend. Any man of God who holds to the truth of Scripture will be considered controversial by the world. As Jesus said, ‘All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22, NIV)’.”

No matter what you say or write, there is no controversy until someone does not agree with you. To that person, what you are saying or doing becomes controversial. You can often get some idea of whether you are right or wrong simply by who agrees and disagrees with you. When a person, by what he believes, speaks or writes, leads others to debate, argument, disputation and disagreement we quickly label him as being controversial.

Do you know of any person who is not controversial to some degree? When I was a college freshman I took a class in Bible history. Unless you know something about your ancestry and what has preceded you, you may never know where you are going.

In those two semesters I realized that many people who have done anything worthwhile have been embroiled in controversy. Ambrose Bierce called controversy, “A battle in which spittle and ink replace the... cannon ball.” The Bible is full of revered and sainted characters who were as controversial as anybody is in the world today. Their names were Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Isaiah, Elijah, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, David, Solomon, Amos, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Stephen, James, Paul and the most controversial of all of them was Jesus. These men still stir up controversy, disagreement and debate wherever their message is presented.

The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Falwell, who has succeeded his father as pastor of the 27,000 member Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, was asked in a television interview, “Are you going to be as controversial as your father?” Jonathan replied, “If your definition of controversial is that we are going to continue to speak to the issues of the day, speak out against abortion, speak out in favor of traditional marriage, speak out in favor of the family, then I can assure you we will be.”

You could also add such evils as gambling, alcohol, illegal drugs, tobacco, adultery, pornography and other wicked things and every evil influence. Few politicians will ever take a strong stand against evil and if you insist that they should you will hear them whine, “We cannot legislate morality.” So they continue on legislating immorality and apparently feel smug and comfortable in doing so.

If we do not stand strongly for what is right, our nation may one day be taking its final gasps of freedom’s air. What made this nation strong and free is the only thing that will keep it that way.

A brilliant first century writer asked two controversial questions: “For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?” Then he nailed them with these two controversial answers, “Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar" (Romans 3:3-4).

When the church and its preachers declare God’s eternal truth all in the world who do not believe in truth will cry out, “You are too controversial.” But that does not alter truth one iota. We are not the judge of truth. Truth will judge us.

© 2007 ASSIST News Service, used with permission