In 1 Cor 1 v10, Paul appeals to the Corinthians 'to agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you.' In the worldwide church today, and even in my church, there are multiple divisions about many things covering both doctrine and practice. As human beings we are fallible and fortunately we do not simply accept what others demand of us or teach. In the light of this reality how are we to apply Paul's word to our disagreements in 2014?
1 Corinthians 1:10
ESV - 10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
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I think that's a great question. I think it shows simultaneously both the strength and weakness of the Protestant branch of Christianity. Of the three branches, Protestants are really the only ones that suffer from this problem on a large scale. The good news is that all the primary Protestant branches typically agree on the core, foundational beliefs of Christianity. For an example, see the statement of faith on this website. It's specific enough to show the exclusivity of Christianity, and yet broad enough that we should all be able to agree with it. The role of the Holy Spirit is not to provide us with answers to every theological question we can come up with. The role of the Holy Spirit is to point us towards Christ. While studying theology is good and healthy, when we major on the minors so to speak, we will always find friction. I think the issue is that Protestants find themselves more often than not, focusing on the friction as opposed to focusing on the Gospel. We will never all agree on the secondary, non-essential for Salvation doctrines, and honestly that's OK. None of us have the corner on Truth, and that's OK. What is important is the Gospel. What is important that we continue to remained unified in the Gospel. And the Gospel is Christ.
As a person who has looked into many different religions, and many different versions of Christianity, my experience has been that the divisions arise more because of personal beliefs about scripture rather than interpretation of scripture. Here is an example that is sure to spark conversation, due to ones personal beliefs... Jesus stated very simply and very plainly "The father is greater than I am." (John 14:28). This scripture, in harmony with Jesus' many prayers and statements throughout his ministry, indicate that Jesus is subservient to... or "less than"... his Heavenly Father (John 4:23; 1 Cor. 15:28). I can almost hear the furious tapping of keyboards and tablets as I continue... Note, however, that I have supplied two scriptures from Jesus himself, with one supporting scripture from the apostle Paul, an authority on the Mosaic Law. Honestly, as the Son of the Living God, only one scripture from Jesus is necessary. However... and this is the scripture most will turn to... Many people quote Jesus' words at John 10:30 as Jesus saying that he is co-equal and co-eternal with his Father, and NOT "less than." However, is that truly the case? To find out, let us complete Jesus' scriptural thought by turning to John 17:22, 23. Here Jesus completes his spiritual thought at John 10:30 by stating that he and his father being "one" simply means one in purpose and in thought... praying so that his disciples "... may be one as we are one--I in them and you in me--so that they may be brought to complete unity." Again, I have shared no doctrinal thought, only scripture, for by itself "... scripture will interpret scripture." I'm sure, however, there may be several posts that will say otherwise. For ANY church teaching or belief, strip away the veneer of church and doctrine, read the FULL scriptural account (with cross-references and original language dictionaries, if possible) and see which is the accurate understanding. We might all be surprised at what we come away with... some scriptural teachings will be made crystal clear, others may shake the pillars of our beliefs. Bottom line? Does our form of worship harmonize with what we know of God's personality and Jesus' living example? Or does it more reflect human philosophy and cultural liberalism? Our response to these questions may reveal the true source of any divisions that may arise.
My thinking is arguing scriptures is like looking at the American flag and arguing how many stripes that's on it. I don't think the scripture is at all something we can argue. The thing that's argued is man trying to change the word to fit the doctrines through the world. If we would only take it for what it says in in entirety then all division would end. The bible has not changed from the beginning. Man has tried to come up with new ways to cause people to loose there souls. The devil is a smart being, we must never forget that. He will put just enough Jesus in a religion to sway people away. If the word is read and followed its as simple as it get.
Great question, Tony! Don't look at the gospel from a philosophical point of view. Corinth was a city filled with teachers and philosophers, all of whom wanted to share their “wisdom.” Emphasize the message of the Word, not the messenger. These Corinthians got their eyes off the Lord and onto the Lord’s servants, and this led to competition. Some are fans of Paul; some, of Apollos; and others, of Simon Peter. See how many times Paul called his readers “brothers.”! 10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, 2 not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. WW Though division is ungodly, it is not wrong to make distinctions between churches and ministers. God has made different churches and different ministries with different callings and characters, because the job of preaching the gospel is too big for any one group. I thank God that there are so many denominations. If there were not men who differed a little in their creeds, we would never get as much gospel as we do. God has sent different men to defend different kinds of truth, but Christ defended and preached all the truth. Christ's testimony was perfect. It is one thing to prefer one minister to another, but we cannot divide into cliques behind one minister or another. One minister of Christ may be rightly preferred to another. We ought to honor those the most whom God honors the most, either through giving him more of His Spirit or by blessing his labors with success; but we should take care not to place our ministers on a pedestal and give them too much honor, because they are likely to fall off that pedestal since they are mere men. We are not bound to think of every minister as our pastor, but we are bound to respect every minister, who by his doctrine and holy life lives up to his profession and holy calling. John Lowe
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