Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Watson: "Rather let peace go than truth"
Image: "Let us beat our swords into ploughshares" statue by Vuchetich at the United Nations
I am continuing to work my way through Thomas Watson's The Beatitudes as a guide to my afternoon preaching series on Matthew 5:3-10. Last Sunday's message was on Blessed are the Peacemakers, "the seventh step on the golden ladder that leads to blessedness."
In his introduction, Watson begins by noting four spheres in which the blessed man is to operate as a "peacemaker":
1. The "oeconomical" sphere: in the home.
2. The parochial sphere: in the local church.
3. The political sphere: in the city and nation.
4. The ecclesiastical sphere: in the larger church.
Watson then notes a "caution" and a "double limitation" for interpreting this beatitude.
The caution is that the beatitude is not to be read as a justification of pacifism on either a personal or corporate level. Here is a summary of Watson's caution:
He says, “a man may be of a peaceable spirit, yet seek to recover that which is his due. If peace has been otherwise sought and cannot be attained, a man may go to law and yet be a peaceable man.” So, a man “may commence a suit in law, and yet be of a peaceable spirit.” His goal is not “to do another wrong, but to do himself right. It is a desire rather of equity than victory.” If a nation is invaded, “and peace can be purchased by no other means than war; here it is lawful to beat the ploughshare into a sword.”
The "double limitation" is:
First, we are not to have “a league of amity (friendship) with sinners.” David would not “sit on the ale-bench with sinners.” So, “we must not purchase peace with the loss of holiness.”
Second, “we must not seek peace with others as to wrong the truth.” We must not purchase peace by selling the truth! We must not make peace with liberal theology, false teaching, and false religions:
"There are many who would have peace with the destroying of truth; peace with Arminian, Socinian, Anti-scripturalist. This is a peace of the devil's making. Cursed be that peace which makes war with the Prince of Peace. Though we must be peaceable, yet we are bid to 'contend for the faith' (Jude 3). We must not be so in love with the golden crown of peace as to pluck off the jewels of truth. Rather let peace go than truth. The martyrs would rather lose their lives than let go truth."