Quotes (769)

“The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it-admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively over the long haul. Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it.

Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God. Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism-all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:17).’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

D.A. Carson

5 thoughts on “Quotes (769)

  1. fourpointer:

    I truly don’t mean to be contrary here, nor to discount this, for I certainly agree with the gist of this. But I would like to add that I have heard this same sentiment preached quite a lot, but mostly by Emergents. They use the “don’t be divisive” card all the time to shut down anyone who challenges or disagrees with their re-defining the Gospel, re-defining someone they call “jesus”, and to hold their followers tightly in their grasp by threatening them with “destroying God’s temple” if they don’t fully play along and support “the leadership”. And it’s those false teachings outside of what we have come to accept as “the core doctrines” that often sneaks in unawares, corrupting and destroying the Faith. So they call those things “peripheral”, and call it sin to make an issue of them. It’s kind of an old cult control technique that has moved into these kinds of churches. They say all the right words and catch phrases, but their “peripheral” false teachings are the problem.

    I find it interesting that Jesus’ last words to the churches doesn’t focus on “unity”, but on purity. And when we see that He holds it very seriously when someone has a “Balaam” or a “Jezebel” in their midst (certainly “peripheral” to our basic doctrinal statements), then some “peripheralsl” can be every bit as important as “core” or “cardinal”. Because it’s what He has determined is important to Him.

    The wonderful thing about abiding in Christ, is that all who do so are unified into His one body. When we are surrendered, bond-servants of Christ, the one Lord, we are unified together in the one Faith.


  2. David,

    I appreciate your concerns, but reread Carson’s words and I think you will find that his denouncing of “superficial conversions” and “biblical illiteracy”and his contempt for the fact that the modern (and, for that matter, Postmodern) “churches” are not “fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love” I think it is clear that the “peripherals” he is talking about would be the man-made traditions and wants of the human flesh (style of music, color of the carpet, where to put the piano, etc).

    “Self-promotion, materialism-all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church.” When we elevate our own wants above what Christ desires out of His followers, that is what Carson says will “destroy the temple of God.” We are to be united–but only if that unity is in Christ. That is what Carson is saying, keeping in mind our Lord’s words in John 17:20-23 and the words of Paul in 1st Corinthians 3:1-7.


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