Have a peek at Adrian Warnock's blog if you're not aware that Word Alive, the popular student week of Spring Harvest, is no more. Essentially, the relationship between UCCF and Keswick on the one hand, and Spring Harvest on the other, has come to something of a messy end. So here we go. Disunity amongst Christians. Harsh words spoken. Bad feeling.
What a disaster.
Except that this was division caused by two issues. The first issue was the truth of penal substitution. UCCF and Keswick insisted that people who are known to disbelieve in this doctrine not appear at Word Alive. Why? Because this is the gospel. This is the heart of our salvation in Christ. When we start to talk about the Lord Jesus bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, becoming a curse for us - then we are well within the realm of essential truths, truths not to be compromised on. A line has to be drawn somewhere, and if I'm any judge of things this is the place to draw it. Did Christ bear the penalty for sin? That question is crucial. To preserve the clarity of this central gospel truth, division is justified.
But there is a second issue which is more frustrating. There will always be error, and people who hold the truth according to the Scriptures will always have to battle it, and when necessary separate from those who hold it. But what about the apparently large number of people who don't disagree with penal subsitution - but just don't see why it matters enough to divide over? What's going on there? This kind of doctrinal indifferentism is a real tragedy, on so many levels. It shows a lack of a deep understanding of the cross, because if the truth of it were understood in head and heart surely there would be more zeal for that truth on display? It hinders unity amongst Christians who hold the Scriptural view, because often the "indifferentists" will prefer to maintain unity with those who are in error than with those who hold the truth, even though their minimalist theological convictions are more in line with the latter. And most fundamentally, it dishonours Jesus by holding that it doesn't matter exactly what he did on the cross.
So, Word Alive is dead - but New Word Alive is... um... alive. And so there could be good that comes out of this: a great conference where the truth of the gospel is spoken unashamedly, without confusion. This could be a rallying point for all those who love the central truths of the gospel. Whether it will turn out that way or not will depend in large part on whether Biblical Christians can shake off the disease of indifferentism.
Check out the wonderful linkage available via the blue fish project.