Paul quarreled with Peter and Barnabas in matters involving doctrine and church leadership. He taught us to reject heretics (Titus 3:10). The apostle John likewise advises us not to
receive into our house anyone who brings a false doctrine (2 John 10).
In later ages the difference between Christian truth and heresy became blurred. At Interlaken, Switzerland, two rivers merge, one thick with salt and mud and the other pure. For a time they run in
the new bed without mingling, as if there were a border between them. But finally they merge. The mud triumphs, invading everything. It is difficult to distinguish water from mud, but this filtration
must be made. Truth alone frees us. Theological error only compounds bondage. Debates and clashes on religious issues were not avoided in the time of the apostles and they cannot be avoided
Immediately after the Reformation, the newly founded Protestant church was torn by four main theological quarrels:
1) The fight against antinomians led by Agricola. Nomos is the Greek word for law. The antinomians asserted that law should be the business only of magistrates, and should play no role in
religion. Luther opposed them, saying that law comes from God and must be respected under the new covenant.
2) Schwenkfeld and Osiander did not believe that Christ’s righteousness can be ascribed to us. They believed that in order to be justified before God, we must have an essential righteousness of
our own, and that Christ cannot manifest Himself fully in us because of our inherent sinfulness. Luther taught to rely totally on Christ for our salvation.
3) Professors Major and Amsdorf went so far in denying any human merit in salvation that they declared good deeds as harmful for those who wish to obtain eternal life. Luther believed
that good deeds are the natural fruits of faith.
4) The great synergetic quarrel was started by Melanchthon who granted the human will a part in our salvation. Our will for the good, he said, is not dead, but only sick, and can still cooperate with the Holy Spirit. In opposition to him Flavius believed that fallen man can only oppose divine endeavor, and God forces us to be saved. Luther kept the golden middle with his doctrine that our will plays no active role in salvation, but can participate by suffering, receiving, and accepting it. We have to endure theology and pass beyond it to love our brethren.
Theology can only be endured. It is repugnant to make the Word of God a matter of debate, most often of low quality. But there are many repugnant things a man cannot avoid. We have to orientate ourselves among the different tendencies in religious thought. If we are unable to recognize heresy, neither will we be able to discern the truth. We therefore have to accept the strife among believers both in
the past and those today, but in this, as in all other matters, right measure is the most important Christian value.
– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS