Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The character most offensive to God and man

A character I have been at times. . .

Error, therefore can never be harmless, nor false teachers innocent. Two considerations, however, should secure moderation and meekness in applying these principles. One is that though error implies sin, orthodoxy does not always imply holiness. It is possible to hold the truth in unrighteousness, to have speculative faith without love. The character most offensive to God and man is that of a malignant zealot for the truth. The other consideration is that people are often much better than their creed; that is, the doctrines by which they live are much nearer the truth than those which they profess. They deceive themselves by attaching wrong meaning to words and seem to reject truth, when in fact they only reject their own misconceptions. It is a common saying that people's prayers are more orthodox than their creeds.

- Charles Hodge from his commentary on Ephesians


Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

So it looks like "Do as I say, not as I do" is out the window here.

You're going to have to help me out with this one, Brother. This make no sense to me;)


Matt Perkins said...

Hey S.P.,
I think the best way of making sense of this quote is thinking about how Jesus dealt with the Pharisees. Matthew ch. 23 would be good to look at. Jesus says the Pharisees have spiritual authority as they "sit on Moses' seat," and He instructs His disciples: "practice and observe whatever they tell you - but not what they do (Matt. 23:3)." So obviously the Pharisees were right about a lot of things - maybe even more doctrinally correct than any other religious group on the planet, save the disciples of Christ, but I think they also qualified as "malignant zealots for truth" as Hodge might say. And Christ seemed to have stronger criticism and condemnation for the Pharisees than for any other group, even while He instructs to "observe whatever they tell you."

Matt Perkins said...

In case it is not clear, I wasn't saying that Christ's disciples were "malignant zealots for the truth," I meant to say the Pharisees, for the most part, probably qualified as "malignant zealots for the truth," albeit a distorted truth.

Anonymous said...

You are too funny!


Josh said...

Hey Matt, good quote. I especially like, "They deceive themselves by attaching wrong meaning to words..."

This reminds me how important the Holy Spirit's role is as our Teacher. Without the Spirit we are bound to attach all sorts of "meanings" to scripture. Thank God that Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things!