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The One Question I Don’t Like…

April 14, 2016

I wrote recently about asking questions, and how we shouldn’t be scared to do so. But what about hostile questions from outsiders? Are you worried by difficult questions about your faith? Don’t be!

It’s inevitable that opponents of the Christian faith will ask difficult questions, and we should welcome them: many of the important doctrines of the church were formulated as a response to difficult questions!

Yes, there are difficult questions, but there are also answers. I have yet to come across a single genuine question, however difficult, that doesn’t have an answer.

Having said that, I have to admit that there’s one that I find particularly difficult and even embarrassing. It’s this one: Why, if there’s only one faith and one Lord, is the Christian church so divided?

One thing is certain: God never intended for the church to be splintered like this. In the New Testament, there’s always only one church in every city; even if that church might have gathered in several house-sized congregations, it was the same church, one and undivided.

But there’s someone who will do anything to hamper the ministry of the church, and causing division in the church is an excellent way of gagging it. And so our ancient enemy, Satan, has done everything he can to break up the unity of the church; and sadly he has often succeeded.

Sometimes churches split because of power struggles or misuse of authority. This should never happen, and if all of us put Phil 2:3 (“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit”) into practice, it wouldn’t happen.

Sometimes churches split because of personal preferences as to worship style, outreach methods or whether to have coffee after the service. This is very sad: we should be able to listen and respect each other, as well as allow for greater variety in how we exercise our faith.

There’s only one legitimate reason for church splits: one group has started teaching or practising things contrary to the Bible, and another group insists on sticking with biblical teaching. In this case, it’s quite obvious who is right. The Bible is God’s Word, and we can’t pick and choose what we believe and not: either we trust the Bible in its entirety, or we are simply making our own religion.

Sometimes it’s not clear exactly what the Bible teaches on a particular subject. In those cases, we need to keep studying the Bible in order to understand it better, while allowing for different ways of understanding difficult topics. The important things are crystal clear, and as long as we don’t deviate from the core truth of the gospel, we can listen and learn from other followers of Jesus, and maintain spiritual unity even when we disagree on secondary issues.

 

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From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

2 Comments
  1. So I really like how you began this post, recognizing that substantive questions are important to understanding one’s faith and relation to religion. But your assertion that one group follows the Bible and one group doesn’t is drastically oversimplified. There were splits within the church LONG before there was even an official church canon of the New Testament. There is theological diversity, not just within christianities but within all major religions, because of a plethora of factors not limited to : language, geography, religious education, and political ideology. Orthodoxy can only be created by demarcating boundaries from heretical teaching. This is how scriptures are created and help any religion to define themselves as apart from their religious teachings. The Bible was created by men over the course of hundreds of years drawing upon many different cultural influences and philosophies. It did not fall from the sky at one moment.

  2. Well, one point I made was that divisions happen for a lot of reasons not connected to doctrine! But when one group does deviate from the Bible, we have to stick with what the Bible teaches – that’s after all what defines Christianity!

    Thanks for your input!

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