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The Tragedy of Compromise

by Ernest Pickering

Broadening the Sawdust Trail

4. We are not to disobey the Scriptures on the plea that we are displaying God's love.

Many Christians have a distorted view of the nature of God's love. New Evangelicals have stated, "The badge of Christian discipleship is not orthodoxy, but love." Current New Evangelicals trumpet the fact that fundamentalist separatists are harsh and abrasive while they are loving. Love, according to them, overlooks doctrinal error and embraces almost everyone who claims to be a Christian. Love does not criticize nor condemn. Love merely affirms.

It is very plain from the Scriptures that love and obedience walk together. Consider these words of our Lord.

  1. "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15)
  2. "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me" (John 14:21).
  3. "If a man love me, he will keep my words" (John 14:23).

The Lord commands in His Word that His people "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5:11). Liberal preachers are sources of the "works of darkness." To fellowship with them is to disobey this command; to do so is, in fact, unloving.

This passage, plus the utterances of Christ just cited from John's Gospel, declare clearly that if one would obey Christ, one must refuse cooperation with apostates. The proponents of ecumenical evangelism, however, do not agree with this premise. In the face of scriptural admonitions to the contrary, they continue to cozy up to the Christ-denying church leaders.

5. We are not to seek to please as wide a constituency as possible in order to gain a sympathetic hearing for the gospel.

One of the points that Graham defenders have made is the fact that hundreds of people from liberal churches hear the gospel of Christ because their pastors and churches cooperate in the crusades. This is a flagrant case of religious pragmatism. We employ whatever methods work regardless of the scriptural principles involved. Certainly this was not the methodology of the early apostles and their followers. Paul, in combating the Judaizers who were trying to flavor the gospel of Christ to suit the palates of Jewish hearers, declared, "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Gal 1:10). "Men-pleasers simply do not hurl anathemas against those who proclaim false gospels."49 An apt observation indeed! But, regrettably, Billy Graham does not "hurl anathemas" at those great number of supporters who preach a false gospel. His failure to do so wins him many friends, but does it fulfill the commands of the Lord?

6. We are not to condone false doctrine as though it were of little consequence.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches heresy, but Billy Graham condones and encourages its leaders. They teach many doctrines which are directly opposed to the Word of God; yet their leaders and members are featured or included in Graham crusades and conferences. So also is it with the charismatics who insist that sign-gifts are still operable today. Paul did not mince words about false doctrine when he wrote, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (I Tim. 4:1). The great apostle of love, John, was not only concerned about the manifestation of love but also about the repudiation of error. He did not advocate a naïve gullibility concerning doctrine. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). In pursuing that theme he said that we should be able to differentiate between the "spirit of truth, and the spirit of error" (I John 4:6). Spiritual discernment is important and must be exercised. There is a vast difference between truth and error and this difference ought not to be ignored or glossed over.

7. We are to recognize that sound doctrine has priority over fellowship and that true fellowship is based upon sound doctrine.

Doctrine has fallen on evil times. Few wish to battle for what they call "peripheral" doctrines. They wish to emphasize instead our unity in Christ and the blessings they see flowing from that.

God's view of doctrine, however, is much stronger than that of some evangelicals. When the first local church was founded in Jerusalem, its characteristics were noted. There were four of them, but the first one mentioned is steadfastness in the "apostles' doctrine" (Acts 2:42). Fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers followed the mention of doctrine. It is noteworthy that doctrine is the first on the list. It would not be of such paramount importance to many evangelicals today. A little later in apostolic history Paul was concerned that "the things which become sound doctrine," be taught in the church (Titus 2:1). Often Paul refers to "sound doctrine," that is, doctrine which is healthy and not contaminated by error. He was most concerned that this kind of doctrine be perpetuated in the churches.

Ecumenical evangelism is not in line with God's program and principles. It is an attempt to bring together that which should not be together. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3). "What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?" (II Cor. 6:14). God has separated light from darkness and no one, not even in the cause of evangelism, should attempt to take down those divinely erected barriers.

The Tradedy of Compromise. ByErnest Pickering. ©1994. BJU Press. Reproduction prohibited. This work is available for purchase at the Bob Jones University Campus Store (phone: 1-800-252-1927; web address:

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