October 19, 2017

J. C. Ryle on The Place of Controversy and Religious Strife

A man who relishes controversy and religious strife is surely not a spiritual man. But what of a man who refuses controversy and religious strife? J. C. Ryle comments:

“Controversy and religious strife, no doubt, are odious things; but there are times when they are a positive necessity. Unity and peace are very delightful; but they are bought too dear if they are bought at the expense of truth. There is a vast amount of maundering, childish, weak talk nowadays in some quarters about unity and peace, which I cannot reconcile with the language of St. Paul. It is a pity, no doubt, that there should be so much controversy; but it is also a pity that human nature should be so bad as it is, and that the devil should be loose in the world. It was a pity that Arius taught error about Christ’s person: but it would have been a greater pity if Athanasius had not opposed him. It was a pity Tetzel went about preaching up the Pope’s indulgences: it would have been a far greater pity if Luther had not withstood him. Controversy, in fact, is one of the conditions under which truth in every age has to be defended and maintained and it is nonsense to ignore it.”[1]

Posted by Don Johnson


Don Johnson is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.

  1. J. C. Ryle Light From Old Times, Banner of Truth Trust (2015), p. 391
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