Church of England Evangelical priest and blogger Julian Mann has written a piece on John Stott for Virtue OnLine entitled ‘Evangelicals More Coherent if John Stott had backed Reform’. It’s an interesting piece, and there are comments well worth reading by those who read Mann’s re-publication of it on his own blog.

But just as interesting as any of his arguments in favor of Reform‘s position on this or that is his apparent inability or unwillingness to see that Evangelicals would also be more coherent if Reform had backed John Stott. Of course we (no matter who we are) are more coherent if we are of only one opinion rather than two. But if we are of two, and the two are sincerely held, why should those of either opinion expect the other to set theirs aside and ‘back’ those with whom they do not agree?

Evangelicals believe the Bible is the word of God, and therefore try to draw their opinions from it, but not all end up with the same opinion even so. Those who believe that Evangelical unity is important have no choice but to accept the co-existence of the opinions, or to believe that one opinion is not sincerely held. And since the Bible says that man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart, a case could be made that it is unbiblical arrogance for either side to claim that they know the other to be insincere. And to ask someone who sincerely believes he is obeying God’s word to obey another Evangelical instead—what could that be called?

Limping along with two opinions is clearly not God’s will for us, but neither is submission to a fellow-Evangelical whom we believe has misunderstood God’s word. We have to come up with a better solution than that.