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Na: Mark Dever on Christian Disagreement
by Motte Brown on May 27, 2007 at 5:44 PM
Mark Dever began his talk this morning with, “Oh how the devil must hate this conference. He must be displeased with this message of discernment, which teaches us how to repudiate him.”

I first heard Mark preach exactly 10 days after praying with Senate Chaplin Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie that the Lord would reveal himself to me. And though I don’t know exactly when salvation occurred, I know that hearing Pastor Dever for the first time was like eating the most delicious meal I had ever had; like eating the food that C.S. Lewis describes in the land of Narnia. It was satisfying in a way I had never experienced.

It’s been 11 years since then. It was great to hear him again.

Mark warned that this talk would be “dense” and “long.” It was, thankfully. He gave a very practical, hour and a half message on what Christians should agree upon, what we may disagree about, and how to do it well. Here’s a brief summary.

First, in order to determine what Christian should agree upon, you need to evaluate the circumstance. In other words, all Christians do not have to agree on all matters, all the time. For example, a husband and wife need to be on a higher level of agreement than friends or acquaintances; and Christians who go the same church need to be in agreement on a higher level than say, writers and readers of the Boundless Line blog.

With that established, Mark said there are three things on which every Christian must agree: God, The Bible, and The Gospel. He said simply that 1) we must believe in the one true God; the triune God; that He was not made; that He functions as our sovereign Creator and our Judge; and that He is the one we are called to believe in; 2) we must believe that the Bible is inerrant; that God has revealed himself in the Bible, that that’s how we know what God is like; and 3) we must believe that Jesus Christ became incarnate and that we are justified before God only through him.

As for doctrine on which sincere believers may disagree, Mark gives four test cases: the millennium, prayers for the dead, complimentarian vs. egalitarian, and evangelism. Not that these things don’t matter, they’re just non-essential. He rhetorically asks, “Can you have an Evangelical who believes in having women in church leadership? Of course you can. Is it a good idea? No.” (Lisa Comment – HELLO – REALLY – so now we think we have authority to label the good christians and the bad christians do we?)

Finally, Mark says that when we must disagree, let’s make sure it’s evident that we care more about each other than winning the argument. He says that it should always be done with love, respect and sometimes by heeding Romans 14:22, “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.”

I spoke with Mark afterward and thanked him for message. He said, “I hope it was helpful.” It was.