I was recently in a conversation where it was argued that theological debates, particularly Calvinism vs. Arminianism, are not useful to the church and belong only in the realm of academia. As I pondered this statement I wondered if there is any truth to it? Do some theological conversations only belong in a classroom or academic journal? Are there areas of theology that should not be discussed or debated within the church? My answer to this question is no. No, we should not reserve certain theological topics for academia. But why?
I am sure that the sentiment of leaving things to academia is the idea that they hurt evangelism or the mission of the church. But what exactly is the mission of the church, within the church? For the purpose of this article I am talking about the church worship, service, meetings. I am no referring to the body and what our mandate from Christ is in going into all the world.
The mission of the church is to disciple the body of the church. To train, to educate, to worship God, to glorify God, to learn more about God. That is the purpose of the meeting of the church. To encourage, to lift up, to strengthen. The purpose of the meeting of the church is not evangelism. The church service is not for the unsaved. Now, do not get me wrong on this, I am not saying the unsaved should not be welcome in a church service. They should. And I pray that they are converted as well. But what I am saying is that our services should not be designed with the unsaved in mind. The purpose of the services of the church are for the believers.
So back to the question of theological debates. I not only believe that they are proper for the church, they are necessary. We should all be wrestling with Scripture. We should all be striving to know God better in all aspects. We cannot effectively do that if there are areas of theology that we shy away from because they are uncomfortable or can lead to heated opinions. So have the discussions, have the debates, but make sure that we are doing things in love, something I do not always follow.