THE DANGER OF SCHISM

Posted: March 26, 2015 in Pastor's Corner
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This past week a friend of mine shared this passage from a devotional. I thought it an apt warning for the day of schism, in which those falsely-indicted as schismatics are those who stand upon the truth in love, and not those who truly are divisive. There is a desire to stop such foolishness among those who would claim to stand upon God’s Word. While the gospel brings division amongst people, may our opinions not bring division amongst those who truly follow the Lord Jesus Christ. While separation is necessary on some accounts and speaking against the heretic is good, the spirit of the world is to separate over the most trifle matter. Take such a warning with poise and grace for we can all be guilty of such things. If you think I write ‘we’ because I have a mouse in my pocket, think again.

THE DANGER OF SCHISM                                                                                                                        By John Wesley

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Beware of Schism, of making a tear in the Church of Christ.  Ceasing to have a reciprocal love “for one another” (I Cor. 12:25), is inner disunity which is at the very root of all outward separation.  Beware of everything which leads to this separation.  Beware of a dividing spirit. Therefore, do not say, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos.”  This is the very thing which caused the schism at Corinth.  Do not say, “This is my preacher, the best preacher in England.  Give me him and you can have the rest.”  All this tends to breed division, to disunite those God has joined.  Learn to say, “I am for Paul and I am for Apollos.” Do not despise or run down any preacher.  Do not exalt anyone above the rest lest you hurt both him and the cause of God.  Do not bear hard upon any preacher because of some inconsistency or inaccuracy of expression; no, not even for some mistake, even if you are right. Do not even give a single thought of separating from your brethren, whether their opinions agree with yours or not.  Just because someone does not agree with everything you say does not mean that they are sinning.  Nor is this or that opinion essential to the work of God.  Be patient with those who disagree with you.  Do not condemn those who do not see things just as you do, or who think it is their duty to contradict you, whether in a great way or a small. O, beware of touchiness, of testiness, of an unwillingness to be corrected.  Beware of being provoked to anger at the least criticism, and avoiding those who do not accept your word.

Comments
  1. Mookie Jones says:

    I may be wrong, I often am, but I believe John Wesley was referring to non-essential issues. Just 20 years ago it would be impossible to even consider but today one the most divisive issues in the modern Christian church is homosexuality. Personally, I believe the church tolerating any form of sinful behavior, whether it be unnatural sexual activity, chronic lying, or infidelity, is a slippery slope that cannot allow to happen. We, as Christians, must realize the danger of the word “tolerance”. The Bible is very clear about the sinfulness of homosexuality, and many other sins for that matter, As Christians we must show those bound by the homosexual lifestyle Christlike love and rebuke their chosen lifestyle in a gentle and kind manner.

    As far as non-essential issues, I also personally believe that John Calvin would be rolling in his grave if he knew how his name was being used in the way it is today. There are some Calvinists who stand firmly by their 5 point system and truly believe anyone who does not agree is “destined for the lake of eternal fire.” We must be very careful discussing our private interpretations of scripture, most particularly when it comes to issues that the most learned theologians, men who have studied the scriptures for their entire lives, cannot agree upon. It is my opinion that there is nothing wrong with mentioning your private interpretation on a particular scriptural issue during fellowship with his brothers and sisters in Christ but it is not wise to dwell on it. We should “agree to disagree” so to speak and move on. There are so many and much more important things we all need to learn from the Bible, it is a terrible waste of time to get stuck on non-essential issues, not to mention the ill will it might create.

    There are quite a few controversial issues that Satan takes advantage of to slow down the progress of a Christian’s study of the Word. I believe there are some such issues that should be avoided in order to progress in the Christian walk, here are but a few (which this list itself may be controversial to some):

    1) Predestination
    2) Is all suffering ordained by God?
    3) God’s Foreknowledge.
    4) Baptism of the Holy Spirit
    5) Are the gifts of the Spirit for today?
    6) Speaking in tongues
    7) Can women serve in a leadership capacity within the church.
    8) Can someone divorced serve in a leadership capacity within the church.
    9) Can a Christian drink any amount of alcohol?

    In conclusion, we have but as short time in these corrupt bodies and should use our limited time as effectively as we can to study and learn as much as possible about God and his proclaimed will. We need to avoid dissent between ourselves and build each other up, not tear one another down over petty disagreements that, when it is all said and done, have no bearing on our salvation.

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