The Joyless Pursuit of Being Right

If there’s one thing that recent events have shown, it’s that the more conservative elements of Christianity seem to have a lot of trouble getting along (especially those flying under the banner of “Reformed”). While many, I believe, genuinely seek to contend for the faith, many others seem to be content with just trying to be the rightest person in the room. The result is the proclamation of joyless “truth” that at best is, frankly, more likely to turn people away from God than draw them near.

Considering this problem, especially in light of the recent happenings with a pachyderm showing up in someone’s foyer, reminded me of one of my favorite passages in Jared Wilson’s book, Gospel Wakefulness:

A joyless Calvinist knows the mechanics of salvation (probably). But he is like a guy who knows the ins and outs fo a car engine and how the car runs. He can take it apart and put it back together. He knows what each part does and how it does it. A graceless Calvinist is like a guy who knows how a car works but has never driven through the countryside in the warm spring air with the top down and the wind blowing through his hair.

Gospel wakefulness changes theological pursuit. It reorients knowledge to become the means to knowing God, not knowing stuff. It exults in God, not merely in thoughts about God. True theology galvanizes our affections toward God, not toward theology. . . . What gospel wakefulness accomplishes, then, is the bringing of one’s heart to theological study, not just one’s mind. (Gospel Wakefulness, pp. 84-85)

These words should cause us to pause and consider our actions—are we seeking to glorify God in our response to situations we deem unbiblical or are we glorying in simply being right?

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books including the Big Truths Bible Storybook, Epic Devotions, Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation, and the End of Poverty, and Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World. His next book, published by Lexham Press, will release in Spring 2023.

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7 Replies to “The Joyless Pursuit of Being Right”

  1. Every time a new tempest brews in our teapot, it can get discouraging.  I feel like the little kid who turns to his older sibling asking “Are mommy and daddy getting a divorce?”  

    Thanks for the perspective.   

  2. Wonderful post. It seems this can really be a trap in the blogging world. Sometimes I feel like people are just looking for material, especially the controversial kind for traffic, instead of glorifying God in their writing.

  3. Good post Aaron.  Correct theological math minus love amounts to, well…nothing.

  4. When it comes to theology, it’s not so much a matter of “getting it right,” though that should always be our sincere aim, as much as it’ should be about growing in our knowledge of Him and His ways. From the gospels alone, we can see that Jesus was far more concerned with the how and why than the who and what.

    An excerpt from Octavius Winslow’s writings, Exposition on Hebrews 6:4-6:
    “They had received the knowledge of the truth in the intellect, but not the quickening, sanctifying power of the truth in the heart. It was an illumination of the mind only. They were so enlightened as to “see the evil effects of sin, but not the evil that is in sin; to see the good things which come from Christ, but not the goodness that is in Christ; so as to reform externally, but not to be sanctified internally; to have knowledge of the gospel doctrinally, but not experimentally; yes, to have such light into it as to be able to preach it to others, and yet be destitute of the grace of God.”    

  5. “While many, I believe, genuinely seek to contend for the faith, many
    others seem to be content with just trying to be the rightest person in
    the room.”

    You’ll never be able to draw that line accurately, and even trying will put you on the wrong side of it.

  6. A much needed and timely post.

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