Friday, May 30, 2008

Compromise is Stupid When Truth is Known

Compromise can be a good thing. Compromise is especially necessary when partners have conflicting desires in marriage. However, compromise can also be synonymous with selling out the gospel. A quote that Steve Camp referenced made me think of this. Campi quoted Jay McInerney as saying, "The good life is the middle way..." What a wonderful summary of postmodern thought. In one sense I actually agree with the quote. In another sense I disagree with it from the core of my being.

I agree that compromise (or the middle way) can be a good thing. When no clear answer is spelled out in Scripture then compromise is a wise way to go. If my wife wants Burger King (and enjoys their slow service and gross food) and I want Taco Bell (with its luscious Chicken Bacon Ranch chalupas) then a compromise (you decide what that would be) is a good option. Theologically speaking, if there are issues in Scripture that are somewhat unclear and not very close to the gospel then perhaps compromise is a good idea. There are quite a few hills that are not worth dying on.

On the other hand when truth is known compromise is stupid and morally repulsive. Christians believe Jesus is the only way to God. Nobody else does. Compromise in this regard would not be a virtue but tantamount to abandoning the faith. Now, the pomo will tell us that truth cannot be known, therefore, the "good life is the middle way..." As believers in the God that calls believers to worship Him in spirit and truth, we cannot sell out to such garbage. God has clearly revealed Himself in Scripture. There are things that can be known, and known absolutely. On these matters refuse to compromise.

Compromise can be appealing. After all is it not easy to be "unified" when we all seek the middle ground? But, unity for the sake of unity is no virtue. If unity is not unified around the truth of Christ then it stands just as opposed to God as the people in Genesis 11. Brothers and sisters, there are things that we must NOT compromise on. The good life is not the middle way, it is the narrow way.

One last thing. There is a difference between compromise and cooperation. Take the debate in the SBC over those darn Calvinists. I would consider myself on the Calvinistic side of the debate. To me compromise is not an option. My Arminian friends would probably say the same thing. The truth is compromise for either side would be (in the opinion of each) a sell out. Therefore, in these situations the call is not to compromise it is to cooperation. It is having a "self-sacrificing conformity to a shared vision" and cooperating despite our differences. Compromise is stupid, cooperation is not.


  1. Brother, do you think that "the pomo" is the best term for postmodernism? Seems to me it's too scattered and not united enough to deserve a definite article. It's a minor issue, for sure, but it's kind of aggravating for me. I guess I'm kind of sensitive to it. Postmodernism is a term that gets thrown around, but have you actually tried to define it? It's next to impossible.
    For example, I consider myself a postmodernist (mainly because I think the "modern" way to get truth was/is man-centered and conceited). However, I would hold that God's word is the only way to know truth because people are so entrenched in their own perspectives they cannot find objective truth unless it's revealed - it's given - to them.
    Don't lump all postmodernism together, bro'; it's just not fair.
    Oh, and the Wikipedia article you linked isn't very helpful.
    I hope this doesn't come across as harsh, but I didn't want to let it slide, either. I know and love your heart, Mike. I agree with your overall point, and it might be helpful to determine what are "in house" debates (where we can cooperate and maybe even compromise), as Hank Hanegraff calls them, and what are the issues on which we can't compromise (like the gospel, nature of God, divinity of Jesus, personhood and divinity of the Spirit, for a few).

    May God continue to use you to proclaim His gospel clearly, as He has already used you in my life and in the lives of students in your church; may you continue to seek our Lord in humility and service to His glory.
    Grace in Him,

  2. Will,

    I appreciate the criticism on this point. And you are correct. Any idea what a better term would be? The wiki article is more to give a definition of what I mean by postmodernism...not so much to explain it.

    Would relativists be a better word? Feel free to give some suggestions...b/c I agree with you on not lumping all postmodernists in together.



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