Mavericks or Party Men?
Broadly speaking, there are two sorts of MPs in the British House of Commons: the mavericks and the party men. The maverick is generally driven by an ideology and is resistant to relinquishing any aspect of his particular view of the world for the sake of power or party unity. The party man is more pragmatic. He may or may not have an ideological outlook, but, in any case, he is not averse to watering it down in order to gain power or to stay on good terms with his political colleagues.
There are too many party–men in the Church today. These are those who put unity before truth, and peace before righteousness. They will stand for the truth, but only if there are others with them, and particularly if it doesn’t involve conflict, or sacrificing any place and power they may have. They may not realise it, but in this respect they are no better than the opponents of the Reformation––men to whom the final arbiter was not the Word of God but what the Church said on the matter. If I profess to be walking in truth but only on the condition that it will not entail sacrifice, then the truth is not really my guiding principle at all.
Many of the leading Bible characters––Noah, Abram, Moses and Elijah––were the mavericks of their day, men who knew what they believed and were prepared to stick with it, cost what it might. Of course no one is suggesting that the Church would be better of if it had more unbalanced fanatics, but that is not what these men were. They were sober men of God––but men who didn’t fit into the systems of their day. When Paul lamented the fact that “all who [are] in Asia, of whom is Phygellus and Hermogenes, have turned away from me” (2 Tim. 1: 15) was he talking about the heathen? No. Paul was no longer welcome in the bosom of the Church. Why? Because he had “kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4: 7)––not merely some of it, or most of it, but all of it. Walk out into the street and you will not find anyone who does not accept the truth of at least one Bible verse, but bring in every verse and you will quickly be met with opposition––not only from the world, not only from what professes Christ’s name, but even, sadly, from genuine saints.
When Luther nailed his 95 theses to that famous door in Wittenburg, thereby condemning the church of which he was a member, he was also nailing his colours to the Bible. When Whitfield was forced from the pulpit to the open–air it was because of the desperate need for God’s Word he saw all around. When Spurgeon stunned the Baptist Union by resigning, it was for the sake of the truth. These were all mavericks––scorned and laughed at in their day, and, like the apostles of old, the “offscouring of the world” (1 Cor. 4: 13). They suffered, but they also achieved much for the name of Christ. Their opponents, the party–men, if not forgotten, are remembered only on account of their opposition to the truth!