Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.
Having spent the past few days in unrelated Facebook conversations with people who passionately disagree with the reviews I’ve posted about War Room, I found this quotation to be incredibly timely. The “almost right” that evangelicals frequently employ in efforts to win people to Christ may be less appropriate than the “right” of simply preaching the Gospel from Scripture. The “almost right” of quoting Bible verses may be less honoring to the Lord than quoting them in proper context. “Almost right” may actually lead people into error.
War Room may, by God’s providence, open some hearts to the Gospel, and even result in a handful of genuine conversions, just as the Charismatic ministry I participated in as a teenager led me to saving faith in Christ. But should Christians settle for pragmatic approaches to ministry at the expense of truth simply because those approaches might be (or even have been) effective?
The apostle Paul refused to compromise God’s Word simply for the purpose of making the Gospel more attractive. Consider his words to the church in Corinth:
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. ~~1 Corinthians 4:1-4 (ESV)
Some might argue that 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 authorizes a seeker-sensitive approach to evangelism, to which I’d counter that the context of that passage emphasizes Paul’s humility in limiting his personal freedom so he wouldn’t distract people from the Gospel. That attitude is far different than taking a non-Christian to a movie in which protagonists rebuke Satan, hoping that non-Christian will come to Christ despite the doctrinal error. Evangelism that tampers with God’s Word may be “almost right,” but it’s still disgraceful and underhanded.
The Lord calls Christians to exercise discernment. Like Spurgeon, we must understand that “almost right” fails to actually be right. “Almost right” may produce short-term effects, but we must aim at making eternal disciples.