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Home The Light Articles from 2003 Sinful Division – Sinful Tolerance

Sinful Division – Sinful Tolerance

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Sinful Division – Sinful Tolerance

In view of error and unrest that sometime spring up in the church, articles as presented by brother Raymond and our other writers this issue are much needed. Peace will never be constant, perpetual, but we can do our part to bend the future in that direction if only our people will listen to what our brothers have to say. Our writers hit the nail squarely on the head with a number of their observations. And, although our readers are perfectly capable of a much needed application, there are a few points that deserve a certain emphasis.

Brethren ought to be ashamed before God to allow such things as the personal problems and selfish ambition Raymond names to even exist in the heart, much less foment into division, whether actual or in spirit. Division–that ungodly, destructive thing–that detestable, repugnant thing to even God Himself–should not once be named among the kindly people of God unnecessarily. "An evil thing" our brother calls it, and the Almighty was even stronger in declaring that he hated it. When men develop a personal agenda to promote their own speculation, their own personal ideology, often, division then has its cornerstone.

But worse (if this is possible), are the scenarios suggested in the divisive wedges of Opinion, with its sister sin of Departing from the truth. They are both of the same family. You see, when opinion is substituted for what can be very clearly and very positively read in the Book, the very structure of such a posture denies the worth of the Holy Word. Since spiritual truth comes only through this Word, what else is needed to depart fully from it but time. I have no doubt that some of the other things named have harmed the church, but in my judgment, a great many of our problems have resulted from the fermentation of opinion which, in time, invariably generates a certain disrespect for the pure authority of the Word of God. You will find no truer statement within the pages of this journal than brother Robertson’s succinct observation, "Brethren, we can’t help build up the church, we can’t have what ought to exist unless the members of the church are strong and will stand for the right and fight for the right, and do everything in their power that they might attain it." Brother, that line will stand when the world’s on fire.

Marking the Man

Raymond quotes from the NIV, "Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that have nothing to do with him. You can be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self condemned" (Titus 3:10-11). As a result of brethren refusing to do what this verse so clearly teaches in both the KJV and the NIV, not only is false doc-trine allowed its place, but an undercurrent is effected that erodes away respect for Bible authority, and in its place is inserted respect for personal friendships.

We have "progressed" to the sad hour when it is not politically correct to actually name the man or men who introduce their divisive opinions into the doctrine of the church. We are classed as "political" if we do what Paul did in 1 Tim. 1:20 and 2 Tim. 4:14, and what he further required the church to do in 2 Thess. 3:14: "if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." Note, as here used, means to mark, to distinguish, to tag, which in this context absolutely demands that the individual be named and identified. Some translate "take special note of" the person. It appears that we are too nice to do what the Lord here says we must do.

No greater direction can be given the church than that clearly required in the 1 Cor. 1:10 passage our brother appealed to: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." God bless that great number who even yet are content to unite on what we can clearly read as practiced by the early church, while refusing to give place to opinionated doctrines of men.

"I’ll Have it My Way"

Basic selfishness is often behind the destructive changes in the church. Many brethren do not love the church above their choices of doubtful doctrinal things. Remember, brother G. C. Brewer affirmed it was "after a long struggle" that he finally got individual cups into the congregation in Chattanooga, Tennessee many years ago, purportedly the very first of our people to embrace the new concept. It is beyond reason that a brother would divide the Lord’s body over something as trivial as a microbe with a position that cannot be sub-stantiated by the Word of God. But he did, and gloried in his work.

Prior to this, in the mid 1800's instrumental music in worship proved divisive among our people. And that issue is again proving itself a thorn among churches of Christ, along with open acceptance of the denominations. The unbaptized are now our brothers in Christ, so say a number of liberal preachers, with some of our own people leaning in that direction. I think the devil is not too concerned when he fails to destroy us through attacks from without. He knows he can likely accomplish even more internally with the insistent, selfish,"I am not my brother’s keeper" syndrome.

Other Changes

But there is a change in the church far closer to our own hearts than cups and instrumental music. It is the practice and/or promotion of brethren planning a vacation, a hunting trip, etc., or accepting employment, knowing that they cannot assemble for worship with a faithful congregation, having instead their own personal communion observance. Considering our deep regard for the direction of the church, it has been alarming to see this doctrine practiced and promoted among our people. Seeing clearly where it is leading, and observing brethren already conceding Bible convictions to get along with those who support it or practice it, should the rest of us now endorse, defend, and subscribe to the practice?

No one in their right mind wants division. We don’t want it over any matter. We don’t want it over the cups issue, the instrumental music issue, the war issue. We don’t want it over the divorce issue. Nor do we want it over these personal communion services brethren are practicing and/or defending. What we do want is for brethren to quit practicing, to quit supporting or defending these errors. We are wishing that our brethren would repent of their practicing or promoting these wrongs, and instead, begin helping us rid the church of them all. We are appealing to them to speak up and speak out, with love and reason, against these errors that can, and are, only weakening the body. To wink at or ignore error is tantamount to promoting the practice. We may choose to leave error alone but it will not leave us alone. It will only increase and prosper–it will not die. It never has. The devil will see to it. Quit preaching on any of the doctrinal struggles of the church, and the church will ultimately succumb. The idea that such issues will go away if we will but leave them alone is the very epitome of naivety, if not ignorance –whether the fellowship issue, the hair issue, the modest dress issue, the assembly issue, the divorce issue, or any other doctrinal issue we might name. They will not go away brother. Error thrives when good men do nothing.

Splitting the Log

Like the cups people of old, brethren have now completely reversed all sensible reasoning, and labor to place the blame for alienation over these personal communion services upon those of us who stand where the church has always stood…the people who have not changed. WE are said to be causing division; WE are the trouble makers. Unbelievable! This is exactly what G. C. Brewer did with the individual cups at Chattanooga. The brethren who stood firm for the common practice of the church–and what the Bible clearly taught–were the trouble makers. Brethren who were not interested in Brewer’s "new thing," and had the courage to speak out against it were the accused, the divisive ones. This is the way it always is.

Brethren who are grieved to see the church stray from the safe Paths in which we have all walked are, more and more, the objects of scorn. But the doctrine of the common assembly is not only Bible, it is what we have taught our children through the years. It is ALL we have taught them of this matter. And except for a few dissidents here and there, the church, as long as I can remember, was very broadly in agreement that we must not, for any reason, choose to neglect the Lord’s Day assembly. (And that’s what this matter is all about, choosing, planning, to NOT be with a faithful congregation on Lord’s Day. It has nothing to do with circumstances beyond our control.)

The doctrine has such a corrupting influence, what started as communion on the creek, now has some of our own winking at Sunday employment. Some of our people, while not practicing it themselves, are becoming more and more sympathetic with the practice, not realizing how they may well become a part of this corruption of the church. It may be akin to the mind-set of that number of Americans who would never engage in homosexual acts themselves, but will defend these people in their "personal right" to their homosexual agenda. Unfortunately, it is often a struggle for people to face the hostility that sometimes comes from brethren when standing where the church has always stood. The pressure has caused some to give up. But we have not that privilege. We are required by God Himself to contend for the faith; we have not the privilege of sitting on the sidelines and seeing how things will go. Credible leaders and preachers, and all faithful ones in between, will hasten to the Lord’s side for involvement in truth’s struggle.

"The Way Things Used to Be"

Unwarranted division is a sin against our Great and Good God. He will not let it pass. Our brethren who bring innovations into the church may be well received in this life, even elevated, but God will not let it pass. Often, we read references to "how it used to be." Heart strings are readily stirred, and I for one bend easily in that direction. But "how things used to be" was when we had only a few here and there who would have their own personal communion hour, but not a single preacher among us who even believed in it, much less defended it. We have documented proof where our preachers opposed it and preached against it to a man, including brethren Kirbo, Buffington, and Welch, and brethren H.E., Luke, and Larry Robertson, as well as lesser known preachers like bro. Paul Cobbs. (It was in bro. Cobbs’ area where so many battles against the practice were waged.) If there was any one thing these and many other preachers engraved upon the spirituality of my generation, it was that we must not forsake assembling with the church.

But, bless our conciliatory day, we seem to be above such conviction. We want so badly to get along with the brethren that the Lord can just move on out of the way. We have brothers who currently vindicate those who practice this, mailing out tapes and printed material to defend it, and distribute letters deriding those of us who oppose it, but we are divisive if we counter. Men like bro. Kirbo and bro. Robertson would turn over in their grave if they could witness what is being accepted by men they loved and worked with while they were living.

Division

In his book, Walking By Faith, brother Roy Cogdill once wrote, "No Christian has the right to introduce into the church of Christ any practice in the realm of judgment, opinion, or expediency that creates division and dissension. This is carnality and defiles the temple of God and will bring destruction upon the person.

 

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