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Divisions and separations are most objectionable in religion. They weaken the cause of true Christianity. They give occasion to the enemies of all godliness to blaspheme. But before we blame people for them, we must be careful that we lay the blame where it is deserved. False doctrine and heresy are even worse than schism. If people separate themselves from teaching which is positively false and unscriptural, they ought to be praised rather than reproved. In such cases separation is a virtue and not a sin. The old saying must never be forgotten, ‘He is the schismatic who causes the schism.’
Controversy in religion is a hateful thing. It is hard enough to fight the devil, the world and the flesh, without private differences in our own camp. But there is one thing which is even worse than controversy, and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation. It was controversy that won the battle of Protestant Reformation. If the views that some men hold were correct, it is plain we ought never to have had any Reformation at all! For the sake of peace, we ought to have gone on worshiping the Virgin, and bowing down to images and relics to this very day! Away with such trifling! There are times when controversy is not only a duty, but a benefit. Give me the mighty thunderstorm rather than the pestilential malaria. The one walks in darkness and poisons us in silence, and we are never safe. The other frightens and alarms for a little season. But it is soon over, and it clears the air. It is a plain Scriptural duty to ‘contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3).
I am quite aware that the things I have said are exceedingly distasteful to many minds. I believe many are content with teaching which is not the whole truth, and fancy it will be ‘all the same’ in the end. I am sorry for them. I am convinced that nothing but THE WHOLE TRUTH is likely, as a general rule, to do good to souls. I am satisfied that those who wilfully put up with anything short of THE WHOLE TRUTH, will find at last that their souls have been greatly damaged. Three things there are which men ought never to trifle with: a little poison, a little false doctrine, and a little sin. (J.C. Ryle)