This is the third in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available here.
With an estimated 2.2 billion Christians in the world, worshiping in more than 41,000 denominations, one may legitimately wonder how we can possibly fulfill the prayer of Jesus that we all be as one (John 17:22).
But diversity does not necessarily mean division. The differences among the world’s Christian denominations generally have more to do with location, culture, worship styles, missionary efforts, and forms of church government than they do with major doctrinal differences.
Even so, it’s good to ask: What are the non-negotiable doctrines of the Christian faith?
Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, refers to the process of discerning biblical truth as “theological triage.” On the battlefield and elsewhere, triage is the process by which medical personnel evaluate and prioritize the urgency of patient needs. A scraped knee can wait; a severed artery cannot.
Mohler suggests that a similar method be used in our churches to determine a scale of theological urgency – what some theologians call primary, secondary, and tertiary issues.
The Missouri Baptist Convention has published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. This post features the first part of Chapter 5: I Found It Necessary: Going from Good to Better in Defense of the Faith.
Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. (Jude 3)
It’s Christmas night 1776, and General George Washington’s Continental Army could use some rest. Tired, cold, and harried, the soldiers would welcome a blazing fire, a warm meal, and a good night’s sleep as a holiday respite from their travails.
But instead, Washington leads 2,400 troops across the icy Delaware River, where they stun German Hessian mercenaries garrisoned at Trenton, New Jersey. The Patriot forces catch the British-sponsored enemy completely off guard. “The lasting effect was that the success raised rebel morale and proved that the most professional army in the West could be beaten.”
Some 17 centuries earlier, Jude ponders a good thing for the harried believers besieged by false teachers. Evidently, he has given much thought to writing about their common salvation, but the Holy Spirit prompts him to take a more aggressive tack and spur his fellow believers to engage in a doctrinal battle that influences the course of the early church.
Jude demonstrates a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and a willingness to turn from something good to something better in defense of the Christian faith.