Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Love the People, Destroy the Errors": The Imperative to Discern

We must be absolutely clear and unequivocal with this distinction between the person and the teaching. We must respect unconditionally the people whose views we critically analyze and respect their achievements on a human level. At the same time, we must oppose the mistaken theological view they have championed, in the hope that we may come to future agreement. In his dealings with schismatic bishops, St. Augustine followed this rule: Honor the person, fight the error. He laid down the polemical principle that we must content objectively with reasons and with proofs from Holy Scripture, and with the desire to win a person back, as he succeeded in doing in at least one instance. His motto was: Diligite homines, interficite errores; Love the people, and destroy the errors.

...the Christian community certainly has the privilege and task to evaluate what is being taught. Again, we may find both good and bad in someone's teaching. But we cannot play off one against the other; we cannot ignore the bad because of the good. It would be the same as excusing a pharmaceutical firm for a dangerous medicine because of the excellent penicillin preparations it has produced for years. It may go on producing excellent medicine, but production of the dangerous substance must be censured and stopped as well as restitution made. - Klaus Bockmuehl,
The Unreal God of Modern Theology (Helmers & Howard, 1988), pp. 5,6

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