As things have been busy, this is a post I have tweaked and wrestled over multiple times without posting. Many of the thoughts and ideas in it could appear as random and lacking cohesive connection, but it has just been on my mind for a while. It is a topic that has never fully shaken out of my head. I have learned those are the thoughts I often need to share, if anything else so that I may develop a better understanding of my own views on it.
How much do you sacrifice for unity amongst believers? At what point do personal views become too much to be acceptable with serving the Lord together? My dad had an old saying. I’m not sure where he got it from, but the words have always stuck with me. “Major in the majors and minor in the minors.” Christianity is full of a lot of doctrinal and theological topics. Discussion over these can be enlightening and exciting. I actually enjoy healthy discussion over doctrinal and theological issues. I find that good discussion over this topic leaves me with a better understanding of the material even if I do not fully agree with the views.
I saw a post on how Calvinists and non-calvinists can manage to work together. We can find enough common ground in order to serve God. There was one gentleman (I use that word rather loosely) that was adamant that this could not be the case. Individuals must be able to agree on everything if they are to serve the Lord together. His concept was simple. He may have used a lot of words to hide the underlying point, but it still sung out loud and clear, “You must agree with every interpretation I have of Scripture if you want to get along.” I was left with one simple thought, thank goodness this is not the view of every believer.
I have yet to meet every single Christian in the world, but out of the ones I have met I do know that I have never agreed on every little thing. In school I did ministry with Calvinists as a non-calvinist, people who spoke in tounges during personal prayer as one who is a moderate cessationist, arminians as an individual who does not hold to all of Arminians writings, and all other types of differences. We managed just fine. It really was not that difficult when we did not make those minor differences majors. There were only a small selection of times where things became a problem.
1. People turning minors into majors. Some people just spent way too much time talking about the minor things. These were the people where you rarely heard talk about how we can spread the gospel. Rarely heard words of encouragement. Rarely were asked what God was doing in your life. All they wanted to do was talk about a theological issue.
2. Attempted conversions. I saw this most in the Calvinism debate. Middle ground for these individuals was that an acceptable position. You were either completely Calvinist, or a heretical Arminian who believed you could lose your salvation, and thus were not saved. I grieved for these people the most since they cared more about converting people to the Biblical interpretations of Calvin than they did sharing the gospel with people who truly were lost.
3. People becoming separatists. Being set apart from most others is not all it’s cracked up to be. Some Christians are embarrassed at the very thought of being seen associating with someone of a different theological view on a random and obscure topic.
This still leaves us with that pesky question at the beginning. How much do you sacrifice for unity? I believe what I believe because I genuinely hold it to be true. If I didn’t think my personal views were true then I would need to believe differently. However, there are others who feel equally as strong about dissenting views as me. We clearly both think the other side is wrong. Is it really feasible to set aside that difference for the sake of unity?
We are spoiled in our world today. If we find disagreement with a pastor on some minor issue we can go off to another church down the street who lines up on that topic. Ironically, we can find ourselves sacrificing far worse things for the sake of being around those who at least appear to agree with every single issue. While every situation is different, I see a common trend with this kind of individual. They inevitably stay in various churches for a certain time before speaking unfairly to those they disagree with, damage the churches testimony to the community, and move on to consecutively smaller and smaller churches until they stand alone. With each more restrictive in views church they align they join a community further and further removed from passionately sharing the gospel, and remaining utterly out of touch with a lost world.
I don’t want that for myself. I don’t want to be so narrow minded in my mindset that I distance myself form other believers to the extent of cutting myself off from the world itself. I don’t want to sacrifice the gospel in order for an image of cleanliness in only associating with those who think exactly like I do. It means having the convictions to stand up for what you believe, but the humility to remember you have been wrong before.
There are some issues which we must remain unwavering on. Some theologically beliefs are simply heretical. Things like Jesus was not really man or God, the Bible is all just allegory, and plenty of others. We should stand firm on the doctrines of the gospel. The gospel is the heart of the Christian faith. Anything that present a false gospel should be called out for being wrong.
There is a balance to all of this, and I will be the first to admit that I struggle with it. If we base all elements of unity on whether or not we agree on every little detail then we are setting ourselves up for failure. God’s church is not consisting of one denomination. It is not even consisting of one specific blueprint of various views on the intricacies found in Scripture. It is filled with people who have been bought by the blood of Christ, and are still growing in their walk with Him.