(This article first appeared in Southern Baptist Theological Journal, Summer 2005)
Christians are supposed to defend the faith (Jude 3), preserve the Gospel’s purity (Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Peter 3:15), test all things (1 Thess. 5:21), and correct those who have doctrinally erred (2 Tim. 4:2). Equally relevant scriptures include Eph. 4:15, which mentions speaking the truth “in love,” and 2 Tim. 2:24-26, which says to correct using “gentleness and respect.”
Unfortunately, these latter two passages often take a backseat to what becomes the overriding aim of witnessing—that is, make sure that someone realizes he is wrong. But this unbiblical approach never results in a person falling to his knees, repenting, and shouting appreciation for being shown the error of his doctrinal ways. Instead, emotional walls go up defensive arguments are launched (no matter how baseless or illogical they may be), and a golden opportunity to show Christ’s love is lost.