Some while ago I read Ridge Burns’s article “Wisdom and Correction.” At the time I was reading in the book of Proverbs.
As it happens, Ridge anchors his article on Proverbs 12:1.
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
But he who hates reproof is stupid. (Emphasis mine)
Ridge used the NIV which says “correction” instead of “reproof,” but regardless, the thought is just as pointed, if not more so.
I couldn’t help but think about how important “correction” is to a writer. Without input from readers/critique partners and eventually from an editor, a writer’s work will rarely be as good as it could be.
Writers learn from rejection letters that sting and maybe even carve away a pound of flesh, but they have the potential of pushing him on to better writing. Those of us who are pre-published also learn from contests or writing exercises. Any objective opinion can serve as correction from which we can learn and which we would be “stupid” to ignore.
The second thing that came to mind when I read Ridge’s article fit with something I had prayed about. It seems to me that false teaching, which so often gets started from inside the Church and has its origins in Scripture, develops in large part because the person who deviates from the truth does not and will not receive correction.
I thought first of Solomon himself. Unlike his father David who repented when he was caught in sin, Solomon hardened his heart and drifted further from God. Because Solomon took up the idol worship of his foreign wives, God sent a prophet to tell him He planned to divide the kingdom, taking all but the tribe of Judah away from his son and his son’s son. Instead of getting on his knees and repenting, Solomon acted like Saul had in regard to David and went after the man anointed to take the throne of the northern kingdom, intent to kill him.
Solomon seems to say, God said? So what. I say I can do what I want.
And isn’t that what false teachers do? The Bible says, No one knows the day or hour when Christ will return, but the false teacher says, I know.
All have sinned, our righteousness is like filthy rags, and even Peter had to confess his hypocrisy toward the Gentile Christians, but the false teachers says, I no longer sin.
And what about the one who ignores the clear counsel of Scripture to love our brothers, our enemies, our neighbors, and justifies mean-spirited, judgmental attitudes and behavior?
Or how about the universalists who are so sure they know better than God that Mankind is just too deserving of “fair” treatment than they are of punishment?
I could go on and on about false teaching concerning gender, the Bible, Creation, who Jesus is, and more. So many different false teachings, and the people behind them claim Scripture. Except, not the verses that contradict their position. Those they explain away or ignore.
For example, I’ve had a discussion with someone in the Holiness crowd (those who claim they no longer sin because in Christ they have a new nature). I pointed to Paul’s letters to the Corinthians about the brother who was living in an incestuous relationship and the church that was divided by bickering and greed.
Look how Paul addresses them:
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling (1 Cor. 1:2a)
Yet just a few verses later, Paul confronts and reproves them for the quarrels in the church. Then in chapter three he says
for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (1 Cor. 3:3)
But in the very same chapter he says
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor. 3:16)
Clearly Paul identified these Corinthians as Christians, and yet he confronted them about the things they were doing that were sinful and needed to change.
You’d think such a clear example would demonstrate that Christians in fact do sin (and need to repent). And if not this example, then surely Paul’s clear statements in Romans 7 that the things he doesn’t want to do he does, and the things he wants to do, he ends up not doing. He concludes, Oh wretched man that I am, but thanks be to God.
Clear. Unequivocal, right? Yet those I’ve held this discussion with have ways around each of those verses. They do not accept the correction of the Word of God, saying instead that they understand more fully what these passages intended, all so that they can hammer Scripture into the shape of their theology.
It is no different than the professing Christians who “re-image” Christ (see for example the discussion that would not die – “Attacks On God From Within”). In the end, they are no different than those of the liberal persuasion who bowed to higher criticism to determine what they would or would not accept the Bible.
Since the presupposition of the higher critics was based on rationalism, anything supernatural had to go. Out went the virgin birth, healing the sick, raising the dead, Christ’s resurrection itself, and all you were left with was a milquetoast Christ who sat around saying platitudes that have formed the basis of today’s “tolerant” society—stand for nothing and accept everything.
Well, well, well. I could keep going, but I think the point is clear. Scripture itself is the corrective, but if someone rejects it … what was it Proverbs said about him?
This article, minus the various editorial changes and revisions, first appeared here in February 2012.