"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." - Rev 2:4
I think a lot about the so-called Gospel Defenders that I departed from in my life. I think I do so often because I was close with many of them, but now I find much of their behavior quite abhorrent. I also have taken a step back and observed myself, and I am quite horrified as well. I have had a glimpe of the ugliness of my sin and of my heart. And I think one of the worst sins we can commit is that of theological pride. It's something we must be watchful for as we live this life the Lord has given each of us. Who are we but clay to be formed as He desires? And what do we have that wasn't given? Any knowledge we have of the things of God is simply a gift. And to take any pride in this knowledge we have is phariseeism at its worst.
But today as I think about the pride that is in my life, and how I wish for the Lord to remove it from me, I can't help but notice also the pride that is on display by a theological world that is impressed with itself. The Arminian and Calvinist world is filled with prideful men, debating one another with pride in their hearts. They are debating with each other over what should be called "orthodoxy." On the Arminian side, many of them seem to propose that salvation is dependent upon what they do or think. It is the height of arrogance to think that one has any sort of self-control over their soul's final destiny (Rom 9:16). To think that one's will is free from the Sovereign will of God is the height of pride and hubris.
But on the "calvinist" side, there is a pride that one can have in being right. I see it on display with certain men, the type that have the words "Gospel Defense" tattooed on their triceps. These are folks that can easily win an argument with an arminian as they expertly expound on the doctrine of TULIP. They think THEY are the orthodox ones because they can win a debate with a free willer and ground their opponents so far into the dirt that they can never recover. They are self proclaimed haters of false doctrine. And their enemies are despised with an intense hatred.
But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. - Revelation 2:6
The Nicolatians also were despised by the church of Ephesus in the second chapter of Revelation. The church at Ephesus were the Gospel Defenders of the day as they abhorred the evil and wicked deeds of the Nicolatians (Rev 2:6, Rev 2:15). The "orthodoxy" of the Ephesians was stellar and without blame. But orthodoxy, as some call it, is cold and dead unless it is accompanied with love. Without love, orthodoxy lacks warmth, beauty, and life. To abhor evil and erroneous doctrine is not the same thing as loving Christ and His people!
Many may think they have their theological ducks in a row. And in my estimation, those that do seem to have lost their first love, and that is Christ. Jesus has been lost in their TULIP so to speak, and they are more concerned with fighting over the depravity of man than for the doctrine of Christ. They are on a mission to glory in their knowledge of being right as opposed to glorying in Christ. TULIP does not terminate on one's SELF. It terminates on Christ Alone. We should be humble, and stop being cranky calvinists who glory in the knowledge that has been given. Let's not lose sight of our first LOVE!