By Paul Proctor
August 29, 2007
On August 24th, the Baptist Press posted Part 1 of a commentary by Union University's president, David S. Dockery, on its website titled, "Unity, Truth and Love."
It began this way:
For the past few years I have been encouraging many friends to join me in a new consensus-building project in Southern Baptist life.
What I found most disturbing about this piece is the author's dialectic solution to increasing dissention and division among Southern Baptists. In the past, proponents of the new spirituality and church growth movement have themselves erroneously emphasized "unity" as the Church's first order of business, which has brought repeated rebukes from many, including yours truly. My response has always been, "Unity is not achieved at the expense of truth."
Although Mr. Dockery addresses this important point, he does so in a dialectic fashion, writing: "�ultimately true unity is based on true truth. Any other kind of unity is earthly, worldly and temporal, which falls short of the John 17 ideal."
Now, as if to have fine-tuned the message for purposes of disarming critics, finding common ground and gaining more cooperation, he proposes a bible-like answer to the dilemma, suggesting we not only join his "consensus-building project," but that we also combine our quest for unity with "true truth," as if some "false truth" existed as an option. Unfortunately, he doesn't explain what he means by "true truth," which only leaves readers to fill in the blank as to what "true truth" might be. I'd call that kind of "truth" subjective, wouldn't you? Practitioners of the dialectic, you see, often utilize a certain degree of lofty ambiguity to make their case and bring on board a broader range of unsuspecting supporters.
The stated objective is to "move forward together" - more ambiguity that leaves readers to again fill in the blank with whatever is important to them, even though "moving forward together" may actually mean something entirely different to everyone involved.
Sure he added in his opening remarks that we should "advance the Gospel" - almost as an afterthought - but even so, is that what Jesus called us to do - advance the Gospel? My understanding is that we are to proclaim it - not merely promote it or distribute it as if marketing a religious product. That would be like selling bibles for a living while never really taking to heart their content. As witnesses, are we not His designated proclaimers? God is the Advancer - the One Who moves it forward. Trying to "advance the Gospel" would be a little like trying to grow a flower, wouldn't it? Is it not God that does the growing? Do we not merely till, plant, water and pray as we are commanded?
And frankly, there are so many differing "gospels" being advanced today, one can no longer assume that everyone's talking about the same Good News anymore than we can assume everyone is preaching the same Christ, which the Apostle Paul explicitly warned us about in 2nd Corinthians:
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." - 2nd Corinthians 11:3-5
The ungodly result of building consensus is people with starkly differing convictions and priorities being artificially unified behind the gratifying goal of "moving forward together" - which is, in fact, not a unity interested in absolute truth at all, but only in achieving Results & Relationships - the real agenda here - and a deceptive agenda at that - a unity built on half-truths, compromise and good intentions - dressed up in Christian garb to appeal to a diverse and undiscerning crowd by a facilitator fusing biblical values with those of secular psychology, citing terms like "balance," "fragmentation," and "tension" alongside "truth," "love," "holiness" and "unity"- all the while suggesting that separation from the world and its ways is actually an un-Christian thing to do because it diminishes "the opportunities for consensus," which Dockery implies in Part 2 of his commentary, published three days later on August 27th.
You see, with consensus, it doesn't matter as much what we do as long as we do it - and do it together - whatever it is. Doesn't that perfectly describe today's church? "Moving forward" represents "Results" and doing it "together" represents "Relationships" - a contrived unity that exists for its own sake - for its own "benevolent" benefit and purpose. When Results & Relationships are pursued as job one, even in the name of Jesus Christ, absolute truth is automatically set aside and religiously rendered secondary.
What Mr. Dockery doesn't seem to grasp is that the Lord may not want Southern Baptists to "move forward together" until they have enough faith in Him to believe and obey His Word both individually and collectively - because, as Hebrews 11:6 makes very clear, it is impossible to please Him without it. In fact, I would think it dangerous and destructive to "move forward together" without faith. Considering the alternative, perhaps we should consider it a blessing that we are wandering aimlessly in the wilderness of doubt and discontent. At least it provides us with a "time out" of sorts for soul searching.
Of course, there is some validity in what Mr. Dockery writes, especially in Part 2 of his commentary - but unfortunately, with the dialectic at work, truth is often used as a disarming and distracting mechanism to hide and protect insidious lies. Regardless of how passionately or accurately one might cite the scriptures, when consensus is the agenda, the Authority and Sovereignty of God Himself is brought into question - which is precisely what Satan accomplished with Eve in the Garden.
In spite of Mr. Dockery's dialectic diagnosis, biblical unity and biblical truth are inseparable. They cannot legitimately exist apart. He contends that to "move forward," (get Results) unity simply needs to be combined with "true truth." It is my contention however, that among believers, where biblical truth is obeyed, biblical unity occurs naturally while so-called "true truth" only muddies the water of understanding and promotes religious relativism - the archenemy of absolute truth.
Still, he continues his dialectic thesis by suggesting the addition of a third ingredient: "love," as if that too can exist apart from unity and truth. But, whose definition of "love" are we to apply here - God's definition or the world's? That's never specified - leaving readers to, yet again, fill in the blank.
"If ye love me, keep my commandments." - John 14:15
He confuses the issue further by dialectically distinguishing between what he calls "truth" and "scriptural truth" mentioning also something he calls "sanctified truth." That makes four kinds of "truth" I found in Part 1 of his piece: "truth," "true truth," "scriptural truth" and "sanctified truth" - that is unless you consider "biblical truth," also mentioned, to be a fifth. It's no wonder young people today, even those professing Christ, largely reject the notion of absolute truth - and why there is so much confusion about what God's Will is for the Church.
Just look at this synthetic mix Mr. Dockery offers his readers:
A call to unity, an invitation toward a new consensus-building project or efforts toward renewal that are not grounded in a commitment to biblical truth are mushy, misguided and meaningless. Yet, truth without a concern for love and unity is hardly consistent with scriptural truth.
Did you catch that?
According to Mr. Dockery here, it is apparently possible for "truth" to be inconsistent with "scriptural truth." Does this not, in effect, give at least some measure of validity to that which contradicts God's Word by pitting a so-called "truth" against "scriptural truth" - suggesting both as somehow equal yet different? If something clearly contradicts the Word of God, is it not in reality a lie? Then why would Mr. Dockery call it "truth?"
Moreover, when temptation or tribulation comes, which of the two do you suppose his readers will ultimately embrace - "truth" or "scriptural truth?"
I can tell you from experience that most will instinctively cling the one that offers the greatest gratification - the bountiful "blessings" of Results & Relationships, which tragically requires no faith in God at all. But, that's precisely what the Hegelian Dialectic does - it seduces participants into an ear-tickling process practiced by Marxists throughout history that ultimately robs Christians of their faith while uniting good and evil, which has always been its purpose.
Mr. Dockery concluded the first installment of his commentary with the following:
Let us together join hands to work toward unity and consensus in Southern Baptist life, a unity and consensus that is characterized by love for one another and that is grounded in the truth of God's holy Word.
I emailed Mr. Dockery with the following response to Part 1 of his dialectic dissertation:
It is not unity that Christians need to seek and practice - but rather obedience to God's Word - Jesus' own definition of love.
"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." - John 15:10
� 2007 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
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Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print.
What I found most disturbing about this piece is the author's dialectic solution to increasing dissention and division among Southern Baptists.