Monday, March 31, 2008

division

Paul says something curious to the Corithian church in his first letter to them:

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval.

1 Corinthians 11

Of course we recall that the Corinthian believers divided into groups claiming to be followers of Paul, Cephas (Peter), Apollos, or Christ- to the exclusion of the others.

We live in a time in which differences among us, and among us evangelicals, are coming to the fore. And that can be alright and healthy, as long as we don't divide over those differences in a way that keeps us from being open to the entire Body of Christ in the world. Of course I'm not talking about the essentials of the faith, but over secondary matters which while important in their place, still should not be placed in the same category as essentials. There will be some debate here, as to what is essentials, though for the most part, the essentials have been settled, and in the interplay within Christendom are being settled.

One example I'm thinking of is a prominent leader who believes that people like myself do not believe in "the doctrines of grace", and therefore cannot teach at his church. I can understand that up to a point. I know one very good, godly man, a pastor, who believes something of the health and wealth "gospel", and I would not want him to be teaching that at a church I'm a part of, either. At the same time, we should work together as we can. And in the case of the first leader mentioned, we must remember that grace in Jesus underlies everything in all Christian theology considered orthodox throughout the centuries.

All things are ours, and all Christian leaders as well. Those who insist otherwise put themselves in a camp that at least reminds us of those early Corinthian believers.

What do you think on this? Is the point valid, and why or why not?

5 comments:

preacherman said...

Ted,
Wonderful post brother.
I pray that as believers we will love above all things. I pray that we will strive for unity in the future. As Jesus prayed in John 17 may we all be ONE as the trinity is ONE. I believe that this should be our most important prayer that we pray as believers and that as ministers we should strive for in our Churches. I hope we can agree on the same doctrines that as Paul says, love is the center (without love everything else we do is pointless), we should agree that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was burried and was raised on the third day according to the scriptures and that he appeared to the disciples and other believers. I pray that we can agree on these principles and in the future be ONE. It would be so wonderful if there were no divissions in Christianity. Let us pray and strive for ONENESS.

NaNcY said...

secondary matters in my mind is a tool satan and can easily use as a distraction.

i pray not to be distracted from the goal in Christ Jesus.

NaNcY said...

http://intheclearing.blogspot.com/2008/03/time-of-refreshing.html

link refered by milton stanley today from bob's blog.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Preacherman,
Thanks, and I hear you. That does need to be a priority, the oneness we're called to in Christ, and found in God.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks Nancy, for the link, and for your words. I agree with your words on secondary matters. We need discernment from God to know what is secondary and what is primary. An example for me: In my view (notwithstanding the good brothers and sisters in Jesus such as the Quakers), water baptism itself is important, for obedience to Christ, though Paul does seem to make it a bit secondary in 1 Corinthians 1 when he says that Christ did not send him to baptize, but to preach the gospel.

But the mode of baptism, or even whether infants or believers (I do believe in believer's baptism, mysself), I think is secondary (as long as those baptizing infants, don't think the infant is thereby saved, which would amount to a sacramental salvation, and often not accompanied with a living faith in Christ).

Well, with all the nuances, my example may not be helpful, but we do need that discernment, for sure.