The Extreme Middle Heresy

We must be careful about the words and expressions we use. One of those examples is the expression “we must be balanced”. Lately when I hear the word “balanced” or some form of this expression, I often react.

In our culture “balance” or to “be balanced” means to be in the middle, the mainstream, to be moderate, not too extreme this way or that. Oftentimes this expression (depending on the context we use it in) pre-supposes a “compromised middle ground“ and in our “democratic” culture this is seen as positive, the reasonable position to hold or place to be.

We as Christians should ask ourselves why, is being balanced “right” or “good”?

Should we want to be in “the mainstream”?

Are we afraid of being”too extreme”? And is this fear of being “too extreme” really a cover for being a coward?

In my concern, I am not saying that we are never to be “mild” as opposed to “extreme” when it comes to certain issues of faith and practice. God has placed deliberate tensions in His word and not everything in scripture is black or white, but this doesn’t mean it is gray either – sometimes we are to be both black and white on “the issue” at the same time. Jesus was “full” of both grace and truth and not somewhere in-between.

Christians can and have many times gone beyond the scriptures or can even be more demanding than God himself, think of legalism or asceticism. These are problems with putting the “boundary” or the “antithesis” in the wrong place, and going beyond the commandment, not a problem with being out of “balance”, but of a faulty scriptural understanding.

To use a bad anecdote, lets say the speed limit is 75 mph. To go 100 mph is going way beyond the limit, being “extreme”. So lets say for arguments sake, if going 100 mph is being “extreme”, being “balanced” now means that going 50 mph is “right”. 50 mph now becomes what is “right” and and 75 mph is now “out of balance”. Do you see the problem with this kind of thinking? An even greater problem arises when we use this “being balanced” approach as a theological paradigm for discerning truth. Often, we as Christians get “out of step” with God’s commandments when we do this, we become negligent when we should be careful and stringent when we should be lenient. I have seen this all too often and it can be crippling to faith and practice, especially to our theology because idea’s do have consequences – what we “believe” affects how we live.

As Contemporary Christians we must not be somewhere in-between today’s “mainstream” and God’s commandments. If God tells us to be extreme, we should strive not be “balanced”, but we should strive to obey Him.

In this world true Christianity is relevant. It is relevant because it provides the only true and living answer to people’s real needs and real problems. By the Church becoming “balanced” we have become irrelevant in today’s culture. We have used the culture as faulty gauge, a faulty standard by which we calibrate God’s word, and in doing this we are in danger of become salt that has lost its flavor, good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

In conclusion I leave you with three quotes on this “Extreme Middle Heresy”:

“It is everywhere proclaimed that we are all right; that though one says God loved his people from before the foundation of the world, and the other that he did not; though one says that God is changeable and turns away from his people, and the other, that he will hold them fast to the end; though the one says that the blood of Christ avails for all for whom it was shed and the other, that it is inefficacious for a large number of those for whom he died; though one says that the works of the law are in some measure necessary, or at any rate that we must endeavor to improve what we have, and then we shall get more, while the other says, that “by grace we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God,” yet both are right.

A new age this, when falsehood and truth can kiss each other! New times these when fire and water can become friendly! Glorious times these when there is an alliance between hell and heaven, though God knows, we are of vastly different families. Ah! now, who cares for truth except a few narrow-minded bigots as they are called. Election—horrible! Predestination—awful! Final perseverance—desperate! Yet, turn to the pages of the Puritans, and you will see that these truths were preached every day. Turn to the Fathers; read Augustine, and you will see that these were the truths for which he would have bled and died. Read the Scriptures, and if every page is not full of them I have not read them aright, or any child of God either. Ay, laxity of doctrine is the great fault now; we solemnly protest against it. You may fancy that I am raising an outcry about nothing at all. Ah! no; my anxious spirit sees the next generation—what will that be. This generation—Arminianism. What next? Pelagianism. And what next? Popery. And what next? I leave you to guess. The path of error is always downward. We have taken one step in the wrong direction; God knows where we shall stop. If there had not been sturdy men in ages gone by, the Lord would not have left to us a remnant even now; all grace must have died, and we had become like unto Gomorrah and unto Sodom. Oh, church of the living God, awake! awake! Once more write truth upon thy banner; stamp truth upon thy sword; and for God and for his word, charge home. Ye knights of truth, and truth alone, shall sit king over the whole world!” (CH Spurgeon)

“We have heard about the extreme right and the extreme left, but it is the extreme middle we need to expose as being extremely deceptive, extremely disobedient, and extremely dangerous.” (Rev. Hayes Minnick)

“The middle-of-the-road man is the theological menace of the twentieth century. In the battle between truth and error, (good and evil) neutrality (moderation) is no virtue. Beware of the “betweenites”!” (Dr. W. B. Riley)

In today’s age of confusion, I believe we must be careful with the way we use words or expressions especially when we seek to clarify Truth. So today I challenge you to be very careful about the way you use the word “balance”…


For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!

2 Corinthians 11:2-4


4 Responses

  1. Larry you have just risen in stature in my eyes because you have quoted W.B. Riley. Riley founded Northwestern College in 1902. I was blessed to attend Northwestern College in 2002.

    You might be alright after all Larry!

  2. Steve, You mean I might be really saved after all?

  3. […] this metastasized “common grace cooperation” theology is largely contributing to a dialectical assimilation of the contemporary Church into the modern pagan culture and an adoption of its ethical […]

  4. “Usually such men that are for middle ways in points of doctrine, have a greater kindness for that extreme they go half-way to, than for that which they go half-way from,” Robert Traill (1642-1716).

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