"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you." - John 16:12-15
Now that folks on facebook have thoroughly trashed Charles Spurgeon, Don Fortner, and their reputations, they've turned their sights on a new target. This target of derision and mockery is a man I greatly admire, Henry Thomas Mahan. And among the critics, a chief critic has taken the lead in the assault upon Henry and his character. This chief critic is a gentleman whom I'll refer to as "the poet." The poet, who has a fairly decent sized following on facebook has decided to start listening to Henry, not in order to learn something, or in order to seek edification. But this poet is listening to Henry's sermons (over 3000 of them on Sermon Audio) in order to find some perceived error he can expose so that he can boast about it on his fakebook wall. He's a heresy hunter, and he thinks he has another awesome scalp that will bring him praise and glory from the internet peanut gallery.
So what did this critical poet find that was worth posting about? Did Mr. Mahan deny the Gospel? No. Did Henry preach that salvation can be found outside of Christ? No. Did Henry start teaching that we should look to our works for assurance? Nope! ... What our critic found was that in the year 1977, Henry allegedly preached wrongly about sovereign reprobation. "Oh the humanity! Oh the horror! Look at me! Look at me!" These aren't their actual words, but this is how they look to me. They're a bunch of sovereign grace pharisees making a show about what horrific findings they've been able to dig up about a dead man.
They should hang their heads in shame as they've elevated secondary issues above the Gospel of Christ. I'm all for making sure my theology is right. And I'm probably "higher" in my doctrine than many of them who seek to openly criticize God's ordained preachers. But I've learned that maintaining peace, harmony and christian fellowship is much more important than making sure everyone agrees with me on secondary issues. Sovereign reprobation, while it's an important topic, and I actually agree with their perspective on it, which is often called "double predestination", is a secondary issue. God has put me with a bunch of people who may or may not share my opinion on the topic. And to be honest, I find that I ultimately don't care what my brethren think about the doctrine of double predestination. When we gather for worship, do I care that my brother or sister thinks that God predestined some people to hell or not? No! I mainly care that we all look to Christ for salvation, and that we rest in Him and His sovereign grace together. Those that I meet to worship the Lord with together may have a wrong understanding of God's sovereign reprobation. But that's ok! God will eventually correct all of our wrong-think. And I look forward to that day!
God's great teachers of the past and present don't necessarily have all their theological ducks in a row. And neither does anybody else. Those of us who believe, we continue to learn of the magnificence of the Lord, His Gospel, and all of its implications. I'm continuing to grow daily in grace and knowledge of the Lord. And the errors that I once held to are discarded over time just as Christ's disciples were progressively revealed the truth of God and His Gospel over time (see Bob Higby's Article, Progressive Revelation in the Book of Acts). God would have it that His children progress in knowledge of Christ's substitutionary work of redemption and God's plan of salvation over the course of a lifetime. We learn more of the depravity of our sin, the work of His Spirit, the mercies of our Lord, and the marvelous work of Christ nearly every day. And this is true for every believer, including God's preachers.
Let's not criticize one another because we all don't have the same knowledge and understanding. Let's not tear down one another because we all haven't arrived at the same exact spot on our journey to the Celestial City. Instead, those of us who rest in Christ, let's submit to one another in love, worship the Lord together in His Spirit, and take care to love each other more than any theological creed or set of "orthodoxy." Because without love, our doctrine doesn't count! And without bearing and forbearing with one another in Christ, we'll be left with nothing but cynical nitpickery, finding heresy under every rock and in every sermon. We'll be left clinging to the praise of men instead of the satisfaction and enjoyment of fellowship in Christ.