- Do we follow commands to purify or to unite?
- What are some common fights Christians have?
- What’s the specific purpose for cooperating?
- What must Christians agree upon? (Essentials)
- What may Christians disagree about? (Non-essentials)
- How can Christians disagree well?
1. DO WE FOLLOW COMMANDS TO PURIFY OR TO UNITE?
The Basic Problem
I trust most Christians recognize the problem confronting us: We live in a fallen world, where the truth will not always find a home. What’s true is not necessarily the same as what’s popular.The Unity People
The unity people love Bible chapters like John 17. They perceive clearly that our unity with one another testifies to our unity with God in Christ, and that our love for one another shows God’s love for us (as Jesus taught in John 13:34-35). They love the love passages in the Bible:
- “Make my joy complete by being like-minded” (Phil. 2:2);
- “agree with each other in the Lord” (Phil. 4:2);
- “all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Cor. 1:10);
- “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love” (Col. 2:2).
The opposite of the unity people are the purity people. They want purity of doctrine and purity of life. They want purity in our churches, in our Christian colleges, and in our seminaries.2. WHAT ARE SOME COMMON FIGHTS CHRISTIANS HAVE?
For now, let’s consider another question: what are some common fights among Christians?3. WHAT’S THE SPECIFIC PURPOSE FOR COOPERATING?
Purpose MattersCircumstances May Matter
Creeds & Confessions
4. WHAT MUST CHRISTIANS AGREE UPON?The Apostles Teaching
How To Learn
How do we learn what we must agree on? Let me suggest three ways: through the Bible, through our church, and through our conscience.Clarity and Agreement
How can you tell if a doctrine is important and worth seeking agreement upon? Here are several tests for answering this question:
- How clear is the doctrine in Scripture?
- How clear do others think it is in Scripture (especially those you respect and trust as teachers of the Word)?
- How near is the doctrine (or its implications) to the gospel itself?
- What would be the practical and doctrinal effects of allowing disagreement in this area?
Right News, Right Views
One of the best words for Christian is “evangelical.” An “evangelical” is one who is defined by certain specific news. “Good news” is what evangel means. Jesus says in the Gospel of John that the correct belief or views about his identity is necessary for someone to have eternal life; otherwise they will die in their sins (John 8:24).Believe that God Is One
Believe that the Bible Is God’s Truth
Believe in the Gospel
5. WHAT MAY CHRISTIANS DISAGREE ABOUT?Practical Matters
True or False
Regular or IrregularDisputable Matters
Non-Essential ? Unimportant6. HOW CAN CHRISTIANS DISAGREE WELL?
Roger Nicole has suggested that we answer these two questions:
What do I owe the person who differs from me?
What can I learn from the person who differs from me?