Unseemly And Mischievous Rivalries

From R.L. Dabney’s Sacred Rhetoric (Or A Course of Lectures on Preaching):

“Opposers should always be treated with fairness and courtesy, except where their own insolence or wickedness demands chastisement.

One application of this maxim is to teach us abstinence from the use of controversial phrases, party names, and all the old war-cries of polemic discussion. The preacher should rarely assault, by name, a rival denomination of Christians. If, for instance, a Presbyterian pastor begins:

“Methodists teach that a true believer may totally and finally fall away from a state of grace: this I shall now refute,”

every person of that persuasion in the house will naturally feel as though he were personally assailed.”

It is evident from reading the book of Galatians that the apostle Paul gave a vigorous stiff-arm to the advice of this Satanic Southern Presbyterian Sage. If Dabney would desire consistency in his polemic against the apostle Paul he might gently chastise him for railing against “a rival denomination of Christians” (cf. Galatians 1:8-9, 5:1-4).

More sage advice from Dabney:

“But had this pastor advanced the opposite doctrine, so explained as to free it from odious misconceptions, in a didactic mode and temper, making only a respectful general reference to an honest difference of judgment upon it among the recognized followers of Christ, every fair-minded adherent of Wesley would have listened without offence, and would have come away with the pleasing impression that Christians were not so far asunder upon this vexed question as he had supposed.”

Dabney considers those who “teach that a true believer may totally and finally fall away from a state of grace” to be “recognized followers of Christ.” If Calvinists like Dabney consider self-righteous adherents of justification by human effort to be “recognized followers of Christ” then indeed Dabney and certain Wesleyan Methodists “are not so far asunder” on any particular doctrine (at least “not so far asunder” to prevent a promiscuous embrace of koinonia among brothers in Satan).

Dabney continues:

“It is very much due to the observance of this simple rule that wise pastors (without infidelity to truth) preserve pleasant relations with other communions, hold their own ground triumphantly against encroachments, and even win accessions, without awakening denominational strife. And it is usually the rash contempt of this easy caution which plunges others into unseemly and mischievous rivalries” (R.L. Dabney, Sacred Rhetoric).

Unseemly and mischievous rivalries among bickering brothers in Satan (e.g., Augustus Toplady vs. John Wesley; George Whitefield vs. John Wesley).

In describing the godly integrity of Daniel inside the lions’ den one Australian writer used the acrostic D.W.A.M. to say that “Daniel was a mosher.” Perhaps an apt acrostic for the ungodly and cantankerous John Wesley would be W.W.A.B. — “Wesley was a belligerent.”

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