“For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10).
The history of the church is long, and often perilous. At times persecutions break out, and great pressure is put on Christians to abandon their faith. At other times, though, the pressure is subtler and far more dangerous for the future of the church.
It is all too common to hear people suggest that the doctrines of the church are unimportant. What is more important, it is suggested, is people’s experience of God. The Christian life is the only thing which matters, so don’t spend all this time arguing about narrow points of theology. There is danger in this view.
I may have a great interest in eating mushrooms. I walk up onto the hills, and find mushrooms in the woods and some on the open ground. I’ve not bothered about the whole study of fungi, the important thing is to enjoy the mushrooms! So out I go, bag in hand, and bring back a frying pan full for lunch. Yum.
If only I’d read a book on mushrooms, I would have found that many have alarming names: deadly webcap; death cap; destroying angel; funeral bell; and so on. In the end the theory is important so that you don’t make a fatal mistake with your practice.
So it is with theology. At times courageous theologians have made a stand against the majority of those around them who just weren’t bothered, and were on the verge of making a fatal error. They resisted the call to just compromise and get on with it, and history has been their vindication.
Though in civil things singularity is not commendable —yet in religion it is good to be singular. Melanchthon was the glory of the age he lived in. Athanasius was singularly holy; he appeared for God when the stream of the times ran another way. It is better to be a pattern of holiness, than a partner in wickedness. It is better to go to heaven with a few, than to hell in the crowd! We must walk in an opposite course to the people of the world. (Thomas Watson)