Abridged and adapted from The Truth War written by John MacArthur, 2007. Published by Nelson Books, a Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers.

“The spotless purity of truth must always be at war with the blackness of heresy and lies.” Charles Spurgeon

Who would have thought that people claiming to be Christians—even pastors—would attack the very notion of truth?

But they are.

In November, 2004, Christianity Today featured a cover article about the “emerging church.” That is the popular name for an informal affiliation of Christian communities worldwide who want to revamp the church, change the way Christians interact with their culture, and remodel the way we think about truth itself.

“We want to embrace mystery, rather than conquer it,” says Rob Bell, one of the founders of a prominent emerging church movement in Michigan. Within this movement, truth (to whatever degree such a concept is even recognized) is assumed to be inherently hazy, indistinct, and uncertain—perhaps even ultimately unknowable. Truth has always been under attack, and this is just one more movement meant to undermine God’s Word, denying its absolute authority.

Emerging church members claim to believe in the God of the Bible, yet still they say they are comfortably uncertain about what is true. Certain avant-garde evangelicals act as if the demise of certainty is a dramatic new intellectual development, rather than seeing it for what it actually is. Uncertainty is the new “truth.” Doubt and skepticism have been canonized as a form of “humility.” Right and wrong have been redefined in terms of subjective feelings and personal perspectives.

Refusing to acknowledge and defend the revealed truth of God is a particularly stubborn and pernicious kind of unbelief. Advocating ambiguity, exalting uncertainty, or otherwise deliberately clouding the truth is a sinful way of nurturing unbelief. It is unbelief cloaked in a religious disguise and seeking legitimacy as if it were merely a humbler kind of faith. But this is not faith at all.

Every true Christian should know and love the truth. The church’s duty has always been to confront such skepticism and answer it by clearly proclaiming the truth God has revealed in His Word. Yet in many realms, the church has grown lazy, worldly, and self-satisfied. Church leaders are obsessed with style and methodology, losing interest in the glory of God and becoming grossly apathetic about truth and sound doctrine.

This is by no means the first time the Truth War has intruded into the church. It has happened in every major era of church history. Battles over the truth were raging inside the Christian community even in apostolic times, when the church was just beginning. Scripture indicates that false teachers in the church immediately became a significant and widespread problem wherever the gospel went.

In fact, ever since that day in the garden when the serpent tempted Eve, he has relentlessly attacked the truth with lies, using the same strategies over and over to sow doubt and disbelief in the human mind. He questions the truth God has revealed, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).

Many Christians today are weary of the long war over truth. They are uneasy about whether doctrinal disagreements and divisions are a blight on the spiritual unity of the church and therefore a poor testimony to the world. Questions constantly heard nowadays include: “Isn’t it time to set aside our differences and just love one another?” “Rather than battling people with whom we disagree over various points of doctrine, why not stage a cordial dialogue with them, and listen to their ideas?” “Can’t we have a friendly conversation rather than a bitter clash?”

Scripture makes it very clear. In the Epistle of Jude, for example, we have an urgent mandate from God Himself to do our part in the Truth War. In fact, Jude’s whole point in writing was to remind believers of their duty to fight for the truth. The Holy Spirit, through the pen of Jude, is urging Christians to exercise caution, discernment, and courage, because “certain men have crept in unnoticed ... ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).

This battle for the truth is vital. Truth is the only thing that can liberate people from the bondage of sin and give them eternal life (John 8:32, 14:6). That is precisely what Paul meant when he said the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18). Truth (the simple truth of the gospel, to be specific) is necessary for salvation. “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ [But how] shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:13–14). Scripture is clear about this: There is no hope of salvation apart from hearing and believing the truth about Christ.

That is why nothing is more destructive than false religion. False religion, in this case, straying from truth and embracing the idea that there is no real truth, is leading the church into chaos and tolerance of sin in the name of Christianity.

My heart resonates with concern for the church, love for the gospel, and passion for the truth. I find myself compelled to echo the inspired words of Jude and exhort my readers who truly love Christ: you need to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3).

Truth is under heavy attack, and there are too few courageous warriors who are willing to fight. This fight is not merely about the thrill of vanquishing some foe or winning some argument, but about a genuine love for Christ, who is the living, breathing embodiment of all that we hold true and worth fighting for.

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