I have noticed over the years that one of the worst temptations Christians fall into is the one that calls for over-matching your opponent with a number of verses from the scriptures. It h as often been noted that Arius – the great heretic who claimed the eternal Word was a created being – had more verses of scripture in his arsenal than any who later were recognized as orthodox. Someone once said to me that no doctrine could be established on only one verse of the Bible. The same applies to any untrue doctrine if we had a thousand texts at our disposal. Nor does it bolster any doctrine to deliberately mistranslate a word or passage to make it conform to doctrine. Many modern versions have done this with Isaiah 7:14 to make it conform to St. Matthews quote from a Greek translation of the text.
When we decide to prove a point by a few scripture quotes we end up in the endless debates the Scribes had with the Sadducees. One side or the other could spew out a bunch of texts to support a view of soul annihilation at death while the other could claim resurrection from the dead and immortality. Such an eternal debate could continue if both sides are arguing in good faith. But, what if one side or the other is trying to support an agenda that is an attempt to seek spiritual power over another? Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” and Philip Jenkins’ “The Jesus Wars” both demonstrate a lack of good faith for some would be Christian leaders in the past. You cannot win a spewing contest with a buzzard.
Christians can either wrangle over doctrines and base all arguments over historicity, orthodoxy, or even ideas such as “Scriptural Authority” or Christians can decide what is right and wrong based on the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. I believe and teach we should remember the instructions of St. Paul to the Corinthians that love is the greatest of these virtues and work our lives accordingly. We will not always get it right. We will not always find the answers we want. But, we can stop arguing and get to work on what should be done. Christians should be known for our love for each other and our neighbors. We should oppose evil actions especially those done in the name of Christianity. We should recognize that we will be called evil by those who cannot see goodness.
Whatever may happen to us, we should live to love.