I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Truth and Love

All of Scripture—especially John’s Gospel and epistles—exhorts Christians, individually and corporately, to conjoin and maintain the perfect balance of the two chief virtues of the faith, truth and love. Truth without love is dead cold intellectualism; it’s “ugliness,” as Schaeffer put it. Likewise, love without truth is mere sentimentalism and compromise, which is also ugly.

In my perusal today, I came across a most interesting expression of this perennial dilemma. In a sermon delivered to the House of Commons, the controversialist English Puritan, Richard Baxter, put it like this.

Men that differ about bishops, ceremonies, and forms of prayer, may be all true Christians, and dear to one another and to Christ, if they be practically agreed in the life of godliness, and join in a holy, heavenly conversation. But if you agree in all your opinions and formalities, and yet were never sanctified by the truth, you do but agree to delude your souls, and neither of you will be saved for all your agreement” (Baxter’s Works, Vol. XVII. P. 80).

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