Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Some Important Issues That Should Not Divide Jesus Christ's Church


Age integration/separation
Baptism
Bible translation
Buildings
Calvinism/Arminianism
Courtship/Dating
Confessions/Creeds
Denominations
Education (Homeschooling, Public School, etc.)
Eschatology
Foot Washing
Gatherings/Worship Services
Giving/Stewardship
Holidays
The Holy Spirit
Interpretation of the creation account
Leadership/Elders/Pastors
Lord's Supper
Mega-churches
Missions
Music
Politics
Preaching
Predestination/free will
Sabbath
Sanctification
Spiritual Gifts
Teaching
Technology
Use of alcohol and tobacco
Women's roles
Youth groups

Let's certainly have significant, spirited conversation and debate over these issues. Through these types of interactions we will (we hope) sharpen one another. When we disagree, however, we must remain united. We are given no option. Christ unites us. He expects us to live out this reality.

10 comments:

Jonathan said...

We Christian are often gifted at being judgmental. Not sure if that is a true spiritual gift or not. :)

Discussions and differences are great, as long as they can be done in love.

A few more for your list?

Membership
Does God love sinners or hate sinners?
Definition of the gospel
What Hell is like
Sola Scriptura
Gambling
Dancing
Mixed gender swimming
Females wearing pants
Females without head coverings in church
Symbols like Christmas trees used in church
Use of drums in church
Use of musical instruments in church
Going to movie theaters
Listening to secular music
Birth control
Polygamy
Getting candy on Halloween
Participating in armed conflict

Eric said...

Jonathan,

You said, "Discussions and differences are great, as long as they can be done in love." Very well said. What saddens me is that some folks confuse any discussion/debate with being unloving.

Thanks for adding to the list. I knew it wasn't exhaustive, but I ran out of ideas. The only one I wonder about is the "definition of the gospel." Can you elaborate? Thanks.

I particularly like the mixed gender swimming.

Jonathan said...

Thanks brother Eric. Should we get into a debate over the definition of the gospel? :)

Seriously tho, thanks for asking. I know I'm in the minority on this one, but I think the gospel as presented by most Evangelicals has a different emphasis than the gospel that Jesus and His disciples preached.

Here is a few links on where I'm at with this:

http://jonjourney.blogspot.com/2009/10/what-is-gospel.html

http://jonjourney.blogspot.com/2009/03/good-news.html

http://jonjourney.blogspot.com/2011/01/gospel-in-gospels-summary.html

roovis said...

Eric,

It's actually one of the symptoms of the "religious spirit" that causes people to actually look for points to be contentious about.

True laborers look to strengthen the bonds of unity where possible.

People get the idea that what you see in the epistles in the NT that running around correcting and reproving is the spiritual thing to do. It wasn't.

You're looking at a bunch of letters that were written over the span of 50 years. Putting them back to back all jammed pack -- tends to foster an illusion that the apostles were angry, full time rebuking authorities. They weren't. They spent much of their time building.

When I see someone running around thinking they're doing God a service by tearing down constantly (and in areas they're not building up in at all..) then I know I'm either looking at an immature Christian or someone who is intentionally trying to destroy what God is doing in the church.

Richard

Eric said...

Jonathan,

I actually agree with you on this one. The gospel is so often reduced to almost a humanistic "Jesus died for me so that I can go to heaven." Interestingly, Jesus talks a lot about the kingdom of God; this is almost ignored in most Christian circles.

Thanks for the links to your posts. I'll take a look.

There is, of course, argument over what the gospel is between believers and unbelievers. That, however, is an entirely different big issue.

Eric said...

Richard,

I try to remember Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

We should certainly be much more positive than negative. And when we are trying to be corrective, we must have positive goals in mind based upon biblical reasoning.

Thanks for the reminder!

John Mureiko said...

Hey Eric,
I'm wondering if by staying united you mean continuing to meet under one roof? Just curious.

Eric said...

John,

That's a great question. It's one I'm thinking a lot about these days, and one to which I don't yet have a solid answer.

The more I read scripture (primarily) and blogs (secondarily), the more I see Christians sharing lives together. When this is the case, the larger weekly gathering actually takes on less importance. Everyone may not meet together at one time, but will share lives throughout the week.

That said, it is difficult to know how to handle it when a house fellowship gets too large for intimacy in the gathering (or simply to fit under one roof). I'd like to think that a group could agree to generally meet in differing locations, but still be united.

The key is one-anothering in Christ throughout the week.

Scott said...

Eric,
In my mind the handful I selected have the most potential for division - since they appear to be more theological in nature.

I guess it depends on exactly what one professes concerning them as to whether or not they become issues that we should divide over.

Some examples:
I would not divide over location or method of baptism, but may have to over purpose and effect. Like one who insists on paedobaptism or baptism as a salvific sacrament.

With bible translations there are many translations I can readily express unity over, others I can not i.e. new world translation.

I can seek unity when discussing the various roles of the Holy Spirit in a believers life. Yet I find myself in division with someone who insists that I must "speak in tongues" in order to obtain salvation.

Same with Sabbath - some insist others are taking "the mark of the beast" because their central day of worship is other than the true sabbath (Saturday).

So if by "being united" you mean; speak with, debate with, discuss with, show charity toward, then I agree.

However if by "being united" you mean in an ecumenical worship setting, I'm not sure that is always possible or even desirable.
So then I would disagree and would affirm that some of these issues at times will and must divide us.

By must I mean we can't enforce baptism of our infants and not baptizing our infants at the same time. We can't have a creed that insists we have no creeds. You get the picture.

At the same time even if I disagree with you on this - I still feel as though I am united with you in Christian love - so maybe your on to something here:)

Brother Scott ><>


1 Baptism
2 Bible translation
3 Confessions/Creeds
4 Eschatology
5 Giving/Stewardship
6 The Holy Spirit
7 Interpretation of the creation account
8 Lord's Supper
9 Missions
10 Sabbath
11 Spiritual Gifts

Eric said...

Scott,

My guess is that we are basically in agreement on this issue.

I think all of these fall into one of two categories. Some deal directly with the gospel, and those we must divide (from unbelievers) over if they teach incorrectly on this issue.

Others are secondary to the gospel but still important. In these we must strive for unity as much as possible. I'll admit, however, that an issue such as baptism (infant vs. believer) is a difficult one. I'm not sure how it can be resolved in a local body.

We just have so much division within the church in general. My hope is that believers will begin to see this as a more important issue and work toward it.