How Do You Explain Our Disagreements?
That there are issues and problems confronting the church all must admit. In our writing and discusions of these problems, the fact that we do not agree on some things often reaches the ears of those in the world. In view of our strong plea for the simplicity and sufficiency of the Bible, they sometimes want to know why we can't agree. If you have received such a question, how did you answer?
I don't think it is as destructive for the world to know of our disagreements as some seem to think. We err and differ because we are human and possess, to some degree, the weakness, prejudice, and ignorance of truth that characterizes all human beings. I certainly believe it is better to keep our troubles to ourselves as much as possible, but we must not discourage open and fair discussion of our problems just in fear that someone who is not a Christian might read or hear what we say. The fact that this paper deals with issues and dangers within the church is why it is not sent to those who are not Christians.
When the world questions us concerning our disagreements I think we can use such to an advantage in teaching some truth. I point out that we are a FREE PEOPLE; that each Christian is left free to study and interpret the Bible for himself; that we, are not bound by the words of some pope, priest, preacher, council, convention or the traditions of men. I refer such people to the division and issues which existed among New Testament churches. Corinth was divided and filled with sin, yet it was addressed as "the church of God." Division is sinful anywhere, but division within itself does not prove that a church is not the Lord's church!
From the moment it began, the church has thrived on controversy. Out of struggle comes strength. A constant re-examination of faith and practice is essential to the purity of the Lord's church.
What if no one ever voiced objection or criticism to what brethren are doing or desire to do? We would head for apostasy as rapidly as time could carry us. The church has always been blessed and her purity preserved by those sincere, conservative-minded, courageous brethren who are as "watchmen on the walls of Zion," who are not afraid to "cry aloud" and who refuse to "cry peace, peace, when there is no peace."
God divided the church at Jerusalem by removing some from it. In Acts 15 we read of division in Antioch which necessitated a meeting of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. Such did not "ruin the church."
This is not written in defense of division, but remember, there is one thing worse than division, and that is UNITY IN ERROR.
Truth Magazine II:10, inside front cover