Category Archives: Church

What Causes Factions in the Church?

This is a question that has cropped up in my recent studies and readings on the topic of unity vs. uniformity and the larger question of why the church is in such bad shape today.

What causes faction, fracturing, splintering, denominations, etc. in the body of Christ gathered (normally thought of as the local church building and those who gather there)?  I can answer this question with one word: immaturity.  So many of my brothers and sisters in the organized church, for lack of better terms, are so wrapped up into being right (right doctrine, theology, church practice, etc.) that their identity and security has become their opinion of what the Bible says.  Their opinion is based on what they have grown up with, or what those they look up to (oh, let’s say, Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or Christ! 1 Cor 1 sound familiar?) say they should believe.  Most often it is a belief built off of tradition and, in many cases, a faulty understanding of scripture text.

But, nonetheless, all of the segmenting, fracturing, divisions, strifes, etc. are because true believers in the church are too immature or they are not believers at all.  Keeping this simple and to the point, though, most problems found in the church are due to immaturity.  Think about it.  We separate from other professing believers because they don’t believe exactly the way we do.  Let me paint a typical picture (based off of how I grew up in the faith).

I was saved, meaning I came to believe in Jesus and redemption in Him alone.  My whole life changed.  I became associated with a Southern Baptist church because my best friend was one and his wife invited my wife and so off we went.  We were accepted and made one of the family by being baptized and becoming  a “formal” member of that local church.  We were taught many things such as tithing, attendance, participation, sacrifice, along with what the Bible and Southern Baptists said about these things.  We came to find out that the Southern Baptists even had a confession called the Baptist Faith and Message.  Eventually we were told that we should believe these things, or in this manner, to be “united” with all other Southern Baptists.  As time went by, and I became a teacher and pastor, I saw what happened to those people who came and did not believe the way we did.  They were told they would be welcome to attend and participate in worship with us, give money to support us, and more.  But, unless they became a member and believed the confession of faith, they would never be trusted to teach in the church, hold church sanctioned bible studies, become a leader, and the like.  Why?  The reason always given was because without membership and believing the same way, a person could go off the rails and teach something heretical and not be accountable to the church for it.  I could draw this out in more detail, but I think you get the picture.  If you need clarification, either comment below or email me and I will give you all the clarification you need.

So, can you see how division would occur in these types of situations?  People with different beliefs coming in to the local church and being pushed away or turned away simply because they do not believe in someone’s opinion of biblical things.  And the people doing the pushing away find their identity in those specific traditions and beliefs espoused by that one church and their security is cemented the longer they attend and the more involved they get.  Can you guess what happens when that belief held by those in that particular local Southern Baptist church (following the example above) is challenged by an outsider from another denomination or faith tradition in Christianity?  A separation occurs.  Immaturity rears its head and estranges one group from the next.  Those with tightly held like beliefs herd together and keep all others out.  Is this what Christ came to instill?  Is this what Paul taught in 1 Corinthians or Ephesians?  NO!

To make this short, let me close with this.  Once we stop making every point of our intricate doctrine (where typically our identity and security is wrapped up)  the test for whether someone is “in Christ” or “of Christ” then we have a chance of being mature and acting in love towards not only our brothers and sister in Christ, but also exercising love for our neighbors as ourselves.  The world will see our unity and our love for each other  as they should see it (See 1 John)  I challenge all my readers and anyone they may speak to about this issue to begin to ask the question, “Am I the one that is acting out of immaturity in my church and thereby being a cause or a sustainer of division, or am I willing to change and help others change so we can be united in Christ?”  Make sure your identity and security is in Christ alone, not in traditions or other peoples’ beliefs about what the scriptures say.

As always, since I am very prone to not being completely understood in what I write, feel free to ask me questions about what I mean here or ask me to clarify what I am saying.  Let’s communicate on this important issue.  Send me your comments and let us be as iron sharpening iron!

Blessings to you!

Craig

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Filed under Church, Discipleship, God's Love, Understanding the Bible

Denominations Show Christian Immaturity

I heard a statement today that made me stop and think more deeply about whether it was true or not, meaning whether it was biblical or not.  The statement was, “The existence of denominations shows how immature Christians are today.  Because most Christians do not allow other Christians to have the freedom to differ in their doctrinal beliefs, denominations are nothing more than the factions Paul railed against in Corinth, i.e. I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, etc.  Rather than allowing professing believers in Christ the freedom to differ in their beliefs of what the Bible says, denominations restrict this freedom and say that their beliefs are right and others are wrong.  This shows how immature Christians today really are.  Rather than standing with those who profess Christ as Savior and surrendering to His Lordship, they separate from others because the others’ beliefs are not exactly like theirs.  How sad a witness this is to the world!”

At first I wanted to push back against this statement, but the more I thought about it the more I believe it is true (biblical).  Denominations were not around in the early church.  The seemingly only requirement to be a part of the early church was professed belief in the Gospel (the facts that Jesus died and rose again conquering death in the process.  I know this summarizes the Gospel, though the actual Good News is not but a few words longer than this.    There was no showing forth works for a period of time (for instance, six months or a year of doing good works, attending church, etc. before being baptized).  And, after looking back over my 22 years as a believer, I stand in agreement with the statement.  Separation has only led to an ineffective witness of Christ to the world that He came to seek and save.  It has divided brother against brother and family against family.  It fosters an “us against them” mentality that is disgusting to God and the work of the cross of Christ.  It shows a lack of love for the brethren that John says the true believer will show.

I pray for the abolishing of denominations for the glory of God and Christ our Lord!

What is your impression or thoughts about the statement that denominations show Christian immaturity?  Am I wrong?  How so?  Please add your input that the body of Christ may be edified.  Blessings to you as you contemplate this situation.

Love in Christ,

Craig

 

 

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Filed under Church, God's Love

A Post Worth Thinking About

No matter what you think of me, whether I am, in your eyes, a heretic, lunatic, some other type of -ic, or caught up in some -ism that is “deadly,” we as Americans are losing our freedoms at an alarming rate.  And, in the not too distant future, if things do not radically change, we will lose our right to assemble, both publicly and privately, with whatever group we choose.  Some people have already lost their freedom to meet as a Bible study group because of Homeowners Associations (HOA) rules or town ordinances.  If you think it cannot happen here, in the U.S., think again!  I truly desire for you to read and consider what Brandon Chase has to say in this blog article.  I also recommend you check out some of the other writings by Jeremy Myers and Brandon Chase.  I, of course, do not agree with everything they believe, but they do have some writings worth considering.

What if there were no churches?

Let me know what you think or drop me a comment if you post a comment on the article itself.  That way I may be edified by your wisdom as well.

In Christ’s love,

Craig

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Why Don’t Believers Read Their Bibles More?

Just a short post to stimulate some thought.  What prevents you from reading your Bible more?  Some of my anecdotal evidence indicates that many believers don’t read their bibles more  (or at all!) because of what I will call an intimidation factor.  When people read the Bible for themselves and come to some understanding, but then go to “church” and hear that their understanding is wrong (infantile, they are put down, demeaned, made to feel small, weak or just plain stupid) they eventually end up not reading their Bible.  Most of the people I have asked about this issue have said they just resigned themselves to believe whatever their pastor, Sunday School teacher, etc. believe.   Some of the rationale for this is that their leaders have been to school and they haven’t, or the leaders have studied more and understand better than they do, or the leaders always have so much more insight than they do and even though they come to a different understanding of the Bible verse (passage) than their leaders, they must be wrong because their views are not the same as their leaders.

What I have faced from these people is a near total discouragement in getting close to God on their own, so they rely heavily, if not solely, on the faith and belief of those around them.  When asked what they believe about any doctrine, they merely rattle off some scholar, theologian, or pastors’ belief and say, “that’s what I believe.”

Curious, I now ask, what is your experience ?  Have you experienced people like this or attitudes/ reasons like these?

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Filed under Church, Discipleship