The Importance of Conviction
“There are some, you know who by relaxing their grip and thinking anything goes have made a thorough mess of their faith” (I Timothy 1:19 TMSG).
In Broken Trail, a novel by Alan Geoffrion, Print Ritter learns that his old friend, Peter French, has been murdered (Fulcrum Publishing. 2006). French was allegedly killed over some cattle. Ritter doesn’t believe this report, and thinks to himself, “There ain’t enough cows in Christendom to be worth getting killed over.” He thinks the cows were a cover-up and the real issue may have been something totally different.
As the narrative continues, it is made clear to the reader that Ritter believes there are some “issues in life worth making a stand over” — and this is what led to his friend’s demise. An alarming trend has emerged in Christendom, and it would be a grave error for Pentecostals to assume we are immune to it. Anyone, it seems there is less and less we are willing to take a stand for. Relaxing our “grip,” as The Message puts it, is becoming an understatement.
In The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham, Harold Myra and Marshall Shelley refer to Graham’s convictions regarding segregation in the church and how he vehemently opposed it as the height of the Civil rights Movement (Zondervan, 2005). “There is no scriptural basis for segregation.” Graham contended. Graham’s point is a good one — a conviction is but a shallow idea if it is simply reflective of how one was raised or as a response to the persuasive voices. Issues are complex, and forming conviction takes depth of analysis and careful probing of one’s soul. It is much easier to just go-along with one’s companions that to study for scriptural clarity. Yet this is what Paul taught ministers to do (See II Timothy 2:15). Embracing the opinions or beliefs held by others may be easier, but not necessarily right.
If we aren’t careful, lacking scriptural clarity and direction, we can end up drifting along in the current of an opinion or idea that has no scriptural basis. “Convictions,” state Myra and Shelley “must be nurtured by fresh evaluations as new circumstances and information arise.” For example, as a minister deepens his understanding of the scripture, his perception of an issue will mature, requiring him to make adjustments to a previously held belief. Providing the new conclusion follows sound exegetic methods, this is in no wise a compromise. Somewhere between being doctrinaire and bullheaded and being wishy-washy, a leader must find the maturing and discipline to develop and nurture solid convictions. And let us make no mistake about it, there are many issue God and the Holy Writ expect us to get a grip on and teach it!
The article “The Importance of Convictions” written by Tim Whistine is excerpted from The Louisiana Challenger.