Controversy is always unpleasant, and most people shrink from the prospect of becoming involved in it. Disagreements and disputes bring anguish of mind. In the Church, controversy has caused unhappiness and divisions, so much so that many say they will have no part in anything controversial.

Nevertheless, error that is propagated in the name of truth must be resisted.

Pain and inflamation are nature’s warning of infection in the body. So it is with the Church. Where error is presented as truth, evil as good, man as sovereign above God, there must be a reaction, and this reaction means controversy. Only by such reactions is it possible for the Church to maintain purity of doctrine and life.

When a body no longer reacts to harmful stimuli, it is either desperately sick or dead. The same is true of the Church.

Unfortunately, there have always been disagreements over secondary matters. Some have been the result of personality clashes in which bruised human egos triumphed over what should have been Christian humility.

But where there are deviations from basic Christian truths, there must be reactions for the truth. Such reactions are good and right and are a blessing to the Church as a whole.

Obviously there must be a source of reference, a norm on which to base convictions. This is found in the Holy Scriptures.

The New Testament gives abundant proof that our Lord and the founders of the early Church harked back to the Old Testament as the basis of their authority. They accepted at face value statements that some today would say were “taken out of context” but that were really messages of the Holy Spirit received by those whose minds and hearts were open to his teaching.

In subsequent church history, the early fathers went to the Word ...

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