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Denominations and Divisions in the Church

For the discussion of the distinctives of the various mainstream Christian denominations

Re: Denominations and Divisions in the Church

Postby dwight92070 » Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:14 pm

Singalphile,

Your whole post is a theological statement, wherein you express your theological opinion, and , at this point, I disagree with your position and apparently you disagree with mine. You interpret certain scriptures one way and I interpret them a different way. The Bible Forum itself shows clearly how many disagreements there are in the body of Christ. Are we all disobeying Paul about divisions in the body of Christ? I don't claim to fully understand Paul's statement there, but I don't believe we are committing a sin to discuss our differences. IMO, there are many non-essentials, which nonetheless are very important to our Christian walk. If that is not true, then why would the writers of scripture bring up so many of them. In fact, scripture concerning non-essentials are still part of God's word, so, in that sense, they are essential. So shouldn't we endeavor to understand them?

To say that Paul would condemn denominations is speculation, IMO. As I said before, when you or anyone else condemn denominations, you, yourself, are causing strife in the body of Christ and giving fodder to unbelievers.
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Re: Denominations and Divisions in the Church

Postby Singalphile » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:33 pm

I tried to make it clear that I was addressing our behavior towards each other (e.g., don't be divisive, don't go beyond what is written, don't commit adultery, love your enemies, etc.), not non-behavioral theological opinions (e.g., Calvinism, Modalism, Preterism, Dualism, etc.). That's why I underlined the word "behavior" in my first sentence, and emphasized the difference between behavior and opinion in each of my main bullet points.

Again, I am addressing behavior. Your (and my) other non-behaviorial opinions do not seem very important to God (except for the essentials previously listed), although they can be interesting.

I hope that that clarification will show that some of your response is not relevant to my admonition to do everything we can to avoid divisions (or sects/hairesis or denominations or schisms or factions or whatever word you prefer).

You asked questions:

1. "Are we all disobeying Paul about divisions in the body of Christ?"

My suggestion is that there should not be divisions/hairesis among us, except when it comes to our behavior (1 Cor 11:17-21ff, 1 Cor 5:9ff). But anyone who is factious should be warned, as Paul instructed (Titus 3:8-10). Opinions about non-behavioral "doctrine" (in the modern sense) do not appear to be of much importance to God, so it is of no concern to me either.

2. "IMO, there are many non-essentials, which nonetheless are very important to our Christian walk. If that is not true, then why would the writers of scripture bring up so many of them[?] In fact, scripture concerning non-essentials are still part of God's word, so, in that sense, they are essential. So shouldn't we endeavor to understand them?"

I cannot think of any non-behavioral, non-essentials (of the sort that we divide over, at least) that are important to our Christian walk, other than miscellaneous historical information. Supposing there are some, they are nevertheless dwarfed by the plain, practical instructions that dominate God's inspired writings, especially the NT, I think. I have found that Christ and the NT writers didn't often bother with abstract, metaphysical theology (other than the previous essential opinions already mentioned). Their instruction and teaching was related to particular behavioral problems or responsibilities of the listeners or readers, as I see it. Sometimes it was about maintaining unity, I think, which is what I do my best to try to promote in any small way.
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23
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Re: Denominations and Divisions in the Church

Postby Si » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:35 pm

Maybe I am alone here, but I like a variety of viewpoints on theological issues. Like I mentioned, I am amillennial, but I think postmillennialists, historic premillennialists, and dispensationalists all have edifying and fascinating theology to offer. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. The only thing I would have against any of these groups is when they engage in reckless speculation or newspaper eschatology, which hurts the credibility of the church. Because these are man-made theological systems, I don't feel it's my place to "defeat" them, because my theological systems are man-made as well. To take the position that amillennialism has to win the theological battle is to say that I have some special knowledge of things that only God knows.

I have watched several debates between Calvinists and Arminians. My position? Each system has it's strengths and weaknesses. They are imperfect because Calvin and Arminius were imperfect. It's like looking at a beautiful sculpture, and each system looks at it from a different angle. When you stand in a different place you gain a new perspective and see things that you missed before. Maybe one of our man-made theological systems is more true than the other, maybe they are all way off. I tend to believe that an Infinite God and his plans are so far above and beyond our puny minds, that our theological systems are like we were blindly stumbling around in the dark.

A variety of positions on non-essentials enriches the body of Christ. The scriptures can be contained between two covers, but they are an endless store of treasures.
Last edited by Si on Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Denominations and Divisions in the Church

Postby dwight92070 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:38 pm

Singalphile,

What church are you a part of ?
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Re: Denominations and Divisions in the Church

Postby Singalphile » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:09 pm

Si wrote:Maybe I am alone here, but I like a variety of viewpoints on theological issues. Like I mentioned, I am amillennial, but I think postmillennialists, historic premillennialists, and dispensationalists all have edifying and fascinating theology to offer. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. The only thing I would have against any of these groups is when they engage in reckless speculation or newspaper eschatology, which hurts the credibility of the church. Because these are man-made theological systems, I don't feel it's my place to "defeat" them, because my theological systems are man-made as well. To take the position that amillennialism has to win the theological battle is to say that I have some special knowledge of things that only God knows.

I have watched several debates between Calvinists and Arminians. My position? Each system has it's strengths and weaknesses. They are imperfect because Calvin and Arminius were imperfect. It's like looking at a beautiful sculpture, and each system looks at it from a different angle. When you stand in a different place you gain a new perspective and see things that you missed before. Maybe one of our man-made theological systems is more true than the other, maybe they are all way off. I tend to believe that an Infinite God and his plans are so far above and beyond our puny minds, that our theological systems are like we were blindly stumbling around in the dark.

A variety of positions on non-essentials enriches the body of Christ. The scriptures can be contained between two covers, but they are an endless store of treasures.


Yeah. What we usually call doctrine (e.g., the issues you mentioned) is interesting. I very much like your statement about not trying to win theological battles (or "defeat" the other side). That sort of us-vs-them behavior, I think, leads to the forming of sects (hairesis). I think it's odd that we would identify and divide ourselves based on non-essential "doctrine" (in the modern sense), rather than unite over our common, core faith. That's 1 Cor 3 territory, I think.

I think that one way to avoid that sort of thing (aside from what I mentioned before, which is mostly just quotes from Paul), is to just limit ourselves to direct Bible quotes when discussing such things in "mixed company" (or just all the time!). If the biblical text itself isn't good enough to make our desired theological point, then the point is perhaps not worth making (and probably wasn't the point that the author was trying to make). Whether I have a majority opinion or a minority opinion on such things, I think I have a responsibility to not tempt those who disagree to be frustrated or resentful. That involves humility and taming the tongue (James 3-4), I think!

dwight92070 wrote:Singalphile,

What church are you a part of ?


I am a part of (i.e., I meet regularly with) various Bible study/prayer groups, usually a general adult group, sometimes the "singles", and occasionally the "young adults" (though I'm getting too old for them). I'ts a so-called non-denominational organization, although that doesn't really have anything to do with why I meet with them.
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23
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Re: Denominations and Divisions in the Church

Postby dwight92070 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:03 am

Look at the writings of Paul, Peter, James,John, Jude, Mark, and Luke. If they had limited themselves to just simply quoting the Old Testament, we would have no real understanding of either the Old Testament itself, or of what Christ came to do. Obviously, they quoted the Old Testament a lot, but they then taught us the meaning of it. This is why God gave us teachers in the body of Christ, to give us the meaning and/or interpretation of God's word.

We can't live in a fantasy world of pretending that there are not differences among us or the fantasy world of "we should never talk about our differences". Just about every one of the New Testament writers spoke of those who disagreed with their words and sometimes they didn't have "real nice" things to say about them. Paul said "let them be accursed", to those who distorted the gospel of Christ. Peter warned of false prophets. John warned of "many antichrists" that had already appeared. Paul even said "For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you." 1 Corinthians 11:19

If Steve Gregg only quoted the Bible, but never gave us the meaning, I doubt that he would even be on the radio, because no one would be listening to him. Also he does reach the "mixed company" that you spoke of, because people are constantly disagreeing with him. Does Steve tell those callers, "I'm sorry but we can't discuss this because we are on different sides of the argument and this would cause divisions in the body of Christ"? No, he gently tries to get the caller to see his side of the issue, because he believes that is the correct interpretation. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, I have learned more by listening to the exchange of words that Steve has with those who disagree, than with those who agree. Whenever you have a teacher presenting the meaning of the scripture, you are going to have different interpretations. It is up to us to be searching the scripture to see if what they are presenting is true or not, just like the Bereans did in Acts 17:11. Luke called them "more noble-minded" than those in Thessalonica, who apparently didn't do that.

By the way, your "so-called non-denominational" fellowship has chosen that designation for a reason. They are separating themselves from denominational fellowships, which basically makes them a "denomination" too. You really can't escape these designations, so why fight it?
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Re: Denominations and Divisions in the Church

Postby jasonmodar » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:29 pm

dwight92070 wrote:By the way, your "so-called non-denominational" fellowship has chosen that designation for a reason. They are separating themselves from denominational fellowships, which basically makes them a "denomination" too. You really can't escape these designations, so why fight it?


How are you so familiar with his fellowship? Do you attend as well?
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Re: Denominations and Divisions in the Church

Postby dwight92070 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:07 pm

jasonmodar wrote:
dwight92070 wrote:By the way, your "so-called non-denominational" fellowship has chosen that designation for a reason. They are separating themselves from denominational fellowships, which basically makes them a "denomination" too. You really can't escape these designations, so why fight it?


How are you so familiar with his fellowship? Do you attend as well?


Dwight speaking: No, I have never met him, don't know where he lives, and have never attended his fellowship. He is the one who called it a "so-called non-denominational organization", so I was simply identifying it the same way he did. So, using reason, I was assuming that such an organization or fellowship would call itself that to distinguish itself from denominational fellowships. Further reasoning tells me that non-denominational fellowships are a "grouping" in and of themselves, just like any denominational fellowship, i.e. they often have distinguishing features and/or doctrines. So basically they are not dissimilar to any denomination.
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Re: Denominations and Divisions in the Church

Postby Singalphile » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:22 pm

dwight92070 wrote:Look at the writings of Paul, Peter, James,John, Jude, Mark, and Luke. If they had limited themselves to just simply quoting the Old Testament, we would have no real understanding of either the Old Testament itself, or of what Christ came to do. Obviously, they quoted the Old Testament a lot, but they then taught us the meaning of it. This is why God gave us teachers in the body of Christ, to give us the meaning and/or interpretation of God's word.

We can't live in a fantasy world of pretending that there are not differences among us or the fantasy world of "we should never talk about our differences". Just about every one of the New Testament writers spoke of those who disagreed with their words and sometimes they didn't have "real nice" things to say about them. Paul said "let them be accursed", to those who distorted the gospel of Christ. Peter warned of false prophets. John warned of "many antichrists" that had already appeared. Paul even said "For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you." 1 Corinthians 11:19

If Steve Gregg only quoted the Bible, but never gave us the meaning, I doubt that he would even be on the radio, because no one would be listening to him. Also he does reach the "mixed company" that you spoke of, because people are constantly disagreeing with him. Does Steve tell those callers, "I'm sorry but we can't discuss this because we are on different sides of the argument and this would cause divisions in the body of Christ"? No, he gently tries to get the caller to see his side of the issue, because he believes that is the correct interpretation. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, I have learned more by listening to the exchange of words that Steve has with those who disagree, than with those who agree. Whenever you have a teacher presenting the meaning of the scripture, you are going to have different interpretations. It is up to us to be searching the scripture to see if what they are presenting is true or not, just like the Bereans did in Acts 17:11. Luke called them "more noble-minded" than those in Thessalonica, who apparently didn't do that.

By the way, your "so-called non-denominational" fellowship has chosen that designation for a reason. They are separating themselves from denominational fellowships, which basically makes them a "denomination" too. You really can't escape these designations, so why fight it?


The apostles and Christ were unique.

We do need shepherds/teachers to teach us how to better obey Christ in an ever-changing world. That's very important, I think. Yes, like the Corinthians, there would have to be factions (hairesis in the Greek) when it comes to our behavior. As is the case throughout Scripture, our behavior and heart towards God and others should be the focus (except for the aforementioned "essentials"). Other things can be discussed, of course, but humbly and harmoniously. (This is nothing that you haven't said so yourselves, I know.)

Regarding Steve G., I occasionally think that he should take even more care to not offend those who might disagree with some of his non-behavioral theological opinions (regarding Calvinism or Dispensationalism, for example), but he's generally considerate and often explains more than one view when asked about some -ism, which is what attracted me to TNP.

Regarding the building wherein I fellowship ("the church that I go to" as most would say), I don't know if there's any official designation as "non-denominational". That's just what I would call it. Anyway, I have to fellowship with some fellow believers somewhere.

Anyway, I've said just about everything that I wanted to say. As has been discussed, the NT contains lots of instruction/teaching about this sort of thing (unity, factions/sects/hairesis, quarreling, pride, obsession with disputes, etc.).
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23
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Re: Denominations and Divisions in the Church

Postby Homer » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:56 am

Interesting how we so often use (or misuse) the word fellowship. In the high sense of the word all true Christians have fellowship with one another.

1 John 1:5-7
5. This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7. but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

And this gets to the heart of this thread. We speak of who we fellowship with, and sometimes disfellowship, when we can not not have fellowship with all other Christians in the highest sense of koinonia. In this sense of the word we have fellowship with each other because we participate in eternal life, in Christ. So the church we attend, just down the street from the Mennonite church, is in fellowship with them, like it or not, and has nothing to do with some doctrinal opinions.

Quite some time ago the article on koinonia in the TDNT (not the abridged version) stated that in the writings of Paul the word had nothing to do with the local church. Got my attention.
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