Dissecting the body of Christ over errant doctrines

Recently a friend and fellow house church enthusiast alerted me to a division within the fellowship he is a member of. The division centered on doctrine, with one member apparently upset that the rest of the group did not appreciate the reformed doctrine he ascribed to.

Without addressing the doctrines in question, I wanted to encourage this group to seek to function like a family. Here is my letter to the group in question as well as our regular group.

I’ve yet to meet as child who holds nothing but right beliefs. I’ve yet to meet an adult who holds nothing but right beliefs for that matter either. In fact, I’m pretty sure, as Greg Koukl has said, that I hold wrong beliefs as well. The trouble is that we don’t know what those wrong beliefs are unless someone loves us enough to patiently expose them through persuasive arguments based on solid evidence (which includes the Bible).

Thankfully, the biblical standard for admittance into heaven is not our score on some sort of cosmic theology test.

It’s true that doctrine is important. And I would agree that many problems faced by the modern church are due to a severe lack of biblical training. However intellectual development only takes us so far. The other half of Biblical maturity is our actions, particularly our love for one another. Practically this means there is absolutely no Biblical justification for breaking fellowship with another member in the body of Christ outside of habitual participation in unconfessed sin.

Paul wrote Ephesians to a group of people far more divided than we could hope to be. In a city where rampant immorality was praised, and at a time when being Jewish still meant something. Yet Paul thought it was possible for them to live together in harmony. Not only that, but to build each other up (chapter 4) in preparation for the coming battle (chapter 6) with ungodly forces.

We need to prepare in every way for battle. We need to strengthen our minds through diligent study of doctrines like open theism and the tenants of Calvinism. But if we don’t, at the same time, have an equally forceful commitment to loving each other and seeking each other’s growth, being right doesn’t really matter, does it? (1 Cor 13)

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5 responses to “Dissecting the body of Christ over errant doctrines

  1. Nicely done, Wes. You echo my own position on this so closely that I'm afraid to write my own post for fear it'll look like I ripped you off! Having been a budding apologist for decades, I've seen far too many sincere young believers get attacked for not yet being theologically sophisticated. Your message needs to be heard by all who love good theology.

    • Thanks! I learned the lesson above the hard way. I wish I had someone older and wiser to guide me through the awkward apologetic years. To slap me in the face when my arguments were wholly unproductive and hurtful (to everyone). Instead all I got from the local church was "don't argue" and run of the mill anti-intellectual garbage. I distinctly remember asking the pastor of the church I went to at the time "teach me how to fight properly" and getting the answer of "you shouldn't fight at all".

      When I met Greg Koukl recently at EPS I had to thank him for helping me mature through his lectures and radio show example. I've met many other apologists who have a similar story of having to seek mature role models in the faith outside their local region for want of any examples at all.

      It's sad that so many apologists are forced to mature online, in relative isolation…

  2. So, I hope you would agree with this statement. "It is not only about theology, but it it never less than theology". It is because of your theology that you have gotten to this belief.

    • I would argue that the only valid grounds for separating yourself from someone would be a combination of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Mostly based on the external signs of orthopraxy which lets us know that there is something wrong with the orthodoxy.

      For example, if a man is caught having an affair we should seek to reconcile him. If he agrees to be reconciled we should work with him. If, however, he continues his pattern of behavior (orthopraxy) then it is safe to assume there is something wrong with his beliefs (orthodoxy). So it would be fair and valid to require he meet certain criteria (call another mature brother in Christ whenever he begins down familiar sinful paths, etc.) before continuing to walk with him in orthodoxy.

      However the situation mentioned in my post had absolutely nothing to do with sin (orthopraxy) but only involved belief (orthodoxy). In that case I find absolutely no grounds for separating from a believer just because they hold (potentially) wrong beliefs. Even if they were to deny the core tenets of Christianity (deity of Christ, bodily Resurrection, etc.) our course of action should be to seek to correct them in love and with patience, not to divide from them.

      Dividing from others because we think they are wrong or because we don't like their doctrine is never warranted as far as I can tell. We may spend less time with them in favor of being refreshed by more mature brethren but we shouldn't write them off.

  3. The way you delivered these words here they are sounding very good with their different meanings in that people did not think in normal way. You are sharing the lots of words with us on here about the different interesting topics.

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