SYMPOSIUM: Response 1: Welcoming Differing Opinions to a Not-so-Bad Question
RaphaŽl AnzenbergerEducators say that there are no “bad” questions, just questions. Asking questions is how students grow in wisdom and understanding. If educators are right, then the question Which has priority—proclamation or social action? is not a bad one. It reveals a point of tension that needs to be dealt with. Simply getting rid of the question will not remove the point of tension. Worse, it will generate guilt in the heart of theological students in future generations who will feel the need to wrestle with the issue, feeding on reflections of the past while nurturing hope for the future.
Furthermore, stating that “bad questions harm the Body of Christ” is
minimizing the true nature of love. I would argue that love welcomes
differing opinions and makes room for constructive dialogue amidst
differing particularities. For instance, French evangelicals have
achieved the impossible: gathering their different denominations under
one institution1 with a clear confession of faith and call to action. At
the core of this move toward greater unity is a deontological charter
which addresses the fact that there are differences in theology and
ecclesiology, yet these differences are not valid reasons not to pursue
unity in spirit and action.
So let us agree on the following: the question Which has
priority—proclamation or social action? is legitimate and requires much
humility and wisdom to be answered. Humility because there are different
positions held in the Body of Christ: holism, restrained holism,
prioritism, and expansive prioritism to name the most common among
evangelicals. Wisdom because scripture (not philosophical or political
frameworks) needs to remain the functional authority for missions.
As a proclamation evangelist, I love to preach good news to the lost.
What a joy it is to see people being born from above, forsaking their
former lives and walking in righteousness! I am quite comfortable with a
restrained holism position, as the one stated in the Lausanne Covenant.
Yet I have dear friends in ministry who think otherwise. So? So here is
my recommendation: know what you believe, live it, love the world, and
love the saints. And please, continue to ask questions, even bad ones!
1. The National Council of French Evangelicals was created in June 2010 and gathers eighty percent of evangelicals. For more information, visit www.lecnef.org.
Dr. Raphaël Anzenberger is an evangelist, apologist, church planter, author, and speaker serving in France. He has a passion to raise a new generation of evangelists.
EMQ, Vol. 48, No. 3, pp. 266-267. Copyright © 2012 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.