Do conservatives and liberals need each other? If so, in what way, and for which objectives? Two Protestant theologians candidly discuss this issue pro and con. Have conservatives and liberals drawn closer to each other? Do conservatives champion truth at the expense of love? Do liberals champion love at the expense of truth? Read these essays for a spirited theological debate over fundamental concerns.—ED.
Regardless of how much we consider ourselves indebted to the Reformers, there is a tone in their speaking that shocks us. I am not referring primarily to the coarseness of their language, although it may be admitted that a good many of Luther’s descriptions of his opponents are not only colorful but also inexcusably rude, and in their more outspoken versions quite unprintable. But even when we turn to a more gentlemanly polemicist, John Calvin, who usually employed only above-belt metaphors and spoke about opponents who variously railed, barked, spit, and vomited against the truth—even here sincere compassion for the opponent as a sinner was mingled with utter contempt of his theological position. Yet Calvin was not self-righteously insensitive to his own errors and sins. Rather, what to us may look like insensitivity and vindictiveness was instead a devout believer’s holy hatred of the untrue. Convinced as he was that a crime was measured by the status of the person against whom it was committed, Calvin viewed heresy as utterly despicable. No words were too harsh in describing him who had blasphemed God Almighty.
This conviction was not peculiar to Calvin but was shared by most men of that generation. Therefore, it is not surprising that Menno Simons—to mention one more Reformer—who ...1
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