Robert Davidson, Sr.
New Cerlile, Ohio
The word 'faction' is defined by Webster as "a party, combination, or clique within a state, party or t h e like;generally with the suggestion of contentiousness, self-seeking or recklessness of the common good."
Factionalism is that which is "characterized by faction." I believe that within the church there has developed this trend of being factious, just as it has grown in politics and in other societies. This clique or party is within the church, not on the outside.
Seemingly we are confronted today with a serious problem that of what is termed "liberalism." Liberalism is also defined by Webster as "a movement in contemporary Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity."
We are all grieved over what the liberal brethren are doing, calling it the work of the church, but we ourselves have not reckoned with our own problem within, that of factionalism.
In I Corinthians 16:13, we read; "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit ye like men, be strong." In addition Paul in I Corinthians 8 presents a true picture of factionalism. A situation developed over the eating of meat offered to idols and Paul teaches one of the greatest lessons which man seemingly has not learned to date. Paul teaches that the eating of this meat would not be wrong, nor does it commend them to God. However, there is not in all men the knowledge or understanding, therefore if an individual does not desire to eat of meat offered to idols, be considerate of him, do not be a stumbling block in his path.
Paul teaches that knowledge puffeth us up, but love edifieth. "If any man thinketh that he knoweth anything, he knoweth not yet as he ought to know." This is the problem: too many men think themselves to be complete in knowledge of the scriptures. Where God has not specifically commanded a "thus saith the Lord," man has added it for Him. When a person thinks himself to be intelligent enough to understand the mysteries of God, he often loses love and patience for his weak brother.
The most serious element confronting us is that we are losing sight of the real battleground. We have not been faithful in our watching.
We have become so engulfed with the church of Christ that we have forgotten the Bible. In making sure nothing comes in from the outside we have lost sight of what is going on around about us. In other words instead of fighting the real causes of liberalism, we have created our own troublesome situation. We have become involved with things of opinion or individual responsibilities and have laid them on the doorstep of our brother and said, here it is, do it! ...whether it be from God or not. The Church is being rent from corner to corner; why rent it from east to west? We had better wake up and start doing what the Bible commands.
Where Is the Problem?
The problem is everywhere. It is not localized. If it were we could be like the doctor; we could operate with the Word of God and remove the ailment. But there is little that can be done when it is everywhere, except administer the prescription given by the Great Physician. Luke 5:31, "And Jesus answering said unto them, they that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick, I come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Why the Problem?
Remember the definition I gave of factionalismcontentiousness, self-seeking or reckless. This is the why of our problem. Either we are contentious, self-seeking or we are just reckless and I might suggest that it takes all three to bring about the complete blindness, which many have not recognized as factionalism. We should be preaching the Bible, not what the church of Christ believes; we should be trying to save souls with the Bible instead of what we believe at Funston Ave. If we are trusting in the Word of God as we should then the truth about the church of Christ is being taught.
How Can We Stop This Problem?
Since the church is made up of individuals, we will have to go directly to the root of our problem our members. Read Romans 15:5, "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like minded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus." With this in mind, I further state it would benefit every one to read I Corinthians 13 and heed what is taught about love being indispensable and the crowning grace. If we love one another as the Bible teaches us, we would not have any faction within the church. If we did everything in love one toward another, there would be no elevation of man, self-seeking or glorifying, contentiousness or recklessness. We would all be striving to understand what the Bible says and we would all be trying to do what it teaches.
There are enough duties and love to keep all of us busy from now to eternity.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XI: 3, pp. 14-15