One of the favorite verses in the Bible for many arm-chair theologians is found in Jude:
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3)
It is important to examine who exactly Jude is talking about here. Luckily he tells us:
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.(Jude 1:4)
Now that is a pretty serious issue. Perverting the grace of our God into sensuality and denying Christ. I am not a scholar of the original languages but it seems to me that what Jude is describing here are people who deny Christ in some way as Lord or who try to make grace a license to sin in some sort of sexual sin (kind of since we are forgiven and covered by grace we can sin all we want). Those are major issues obviously. Denying Christ or using grace as a license to sin are gospel issues. Those are issues to break fellowship over and are some of the very few issues where we can break the glass and get out the “Heresy” stick.
So based on that, with whom are we to “contend for the faith”? It sometimes seems…scratch that, it often seems that we are mostly interested in contending for our version of the faith at the expense of other versions. Not a different Gospel but a different doctrinal stand on certain issues. We end up contending with one another under the guise of contending for the Gospel.
I think issues like baptism are important. Not issues to separate over but important. I have made my views on baptism, on homeschooling, on gender roles, on headcovering, on the meeting of the church, etc. amply and loudly known on this blog. I will continue to do so. I am trying to walk a fine line however, a line that is easy to cross. That line is crossed when disagreements turn personal, when fellowship is broken or when salvation is questioned. These issues do not rise to the level of heresy and are not of the same category as what Jude is describing. Having a different view of the end-times is not the same thing as libertinism. Even when the error is serious, as I would categorize dispensationalism, it doesn’t rise to that level.
We all, me especially, need to be careful that in our zeal of contending for the Gospel we don't spend all of our time contending with our brothers. There are plenty of genuine heretics out there without making that tent any bigger.