Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Attitude of Division

Re-Posted from "Meditations of a Charismatic Calvinist Who Does Not Speak in Tongues"

Paul speaks against divisiveness in 1 Corinthians 1:10-12. What is this divisiveness, and how do we avoid it? Scripture makes it clear there is a point where we must stand for truth, even to the point of dividing over it (Romans 16:17; Galatians 1:8,9; 2 John 9-11). Now there is the question of how serious a disagreement needs to be before it becomes an issue. But there is a more important issue of attitude.

One problem is too great an emphasis on human leaders (1 Corinthians 1:13-17; 3:4-9; 4:1-5). Now human leadership is a gift from God (Ephesians 4:11), and we should honor and be subject to them (1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17). But we must be careful of putting them in the place that only belongs to Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). It is God who is in control of our lives to accomplish His purpose, and He should always have first place (Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 16:18; Psalms 127:1,2). We need to put our ultimate trust in Him, not personalities.

There is also the problem of too great a trust in our own wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-31; 2:1-5; 3:18,19). Now I need to be careful here; there are some who will carry intellectual humility to the point of not believing we can really know anything. Scripture makes it clear there is such a thing as truth (John 17:17; 8:31,32; Ephesians 4:15), and it is a specific and knowable thing (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Isaiah 43:10,11). But it is one thing to trust in God's truth and another to trust in our own human ability to dogmatically establish every detail of truth. We should approach any issue with caution, knowing that our heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and the world is full of traps for the unwary (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).Therefore, we should be careful not to build up teachings on an insufficient basis or to be excessively dogmatic about things that are not that clear-cut. And we particularly need to beware of adopting a position simply to show how much better we are for holding it or how much cleverer we are than someone  else for having discovered it.

Now I do not want to claim that I am immune to these errors and have everything figured out. But I do believe we all (including myself) need to be careful blowing issues out of proportion and dividing over things that are not worth dividing over.

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