Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Real Unity, Biblical Unity, Which Is Required, Versus Fake Unity, The Overwhelmingly Most Common Today -- pt. 2

Like a lot of other biblical words or concepts or doctrines, unity is changed, perverted, morphed, or dumbed down to something it isn't.  What I see is that people in general are completely fine with that. They think it is a good trend.  Thumbs up to having unity mean what they want.

Love is another word that is twisted to something a long ways away from what it actually is.  If you say someone's "love" isn't love, that is a worse violation then corrupting love itself.  Ironically, it is unloving to say someone's love isn't love.  I know this to be true. God, however, is still going to judge us for love based on what He says it is -- the same with unity.

A few years ago, I was asked to preach at a church, which was without a pastor, for all day Sunday and then Wednesday, about four or so times.  The church was far from unified.  It had at least two or three factions in it, that had got along because the church had settled on something less than unity.  To get along, not unify, the former leadership had obviously tolerated the differences, treated them like they were allowable.  He probably said, "For unity's sake," which in fact was "for division's sake." Men don't want to lose anybody, even if the people aren't believing or doing right.  Losing people is the worst thing for them and for varied reasons, I'm going to continue discussing.  The former pastor just kept kicking that can down the road until he either got tired or decided not to put up with it anymore.  Let someone else deal with it.

Anyway, my first sermon was an exposition of 1 Corinthians 1:10 on biblical unity in a church.  That church was frozen in utter amazement on just going word by word through that verse in its context. The church was not, never, no way, going to do that.  It's like the Bible at that point was a book for a different species, a different planet, or a different dimension of space and time.  Some people hearing the sermon were all in -- that was obvious.  They wanted it.  Others wanted their present form, where they got to keep believing like and doing like they wanted, just disobeying that verse and all other verses in the Bible that taught the same thing.  They would never have a pastor come, who would promise to enforce such a verse.  Any pastor, who wanted that job, would not and could not mention that he believed that, which is very often how pastors get new pastorates -- by not stepping on that kind of land mine.  Someone might call it more of an art than a science.

To believe 1 Corinthians 1:10 at the church where I preached on unity would have required a split.  A split doesn't sound like unity, but to get to unity, often a split must take place.  Some think the split is worse than not having unity, so they put up with false doctrine and practice.

In part one of this, I started talking about why churches don't get the unity the Bible teaches, reaching only the first of the list I gave.  I move to the second one with this post.

  • It requires biblical and doctrinal clarity, which takes preparation, study, and effort, and people aren't sure or they have too many doubts about the Bible.
I want to say just a little more there.  Liberty issues are non-scriptural issues.  The doubtful disputations are concerning issues that the Bible is silent about, or has at least judged to be a liberty issue, like the dietary examples given in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8.  Doctrinal issues are becoming liberty issues now for the sake of getting along.  There is only one teaching in scripture, but churches allow for more than one teaching on various doctrines and practices.  If you don't do that in a church, now you are considered to be violating some definition of love, which is closer to toleration.

So-called "unity" today is often guided by giving liberty to believe and practice differently within the same assembly.  Men are doing that by making doctrinal and practical issues now issues of liberty.  That is a historic change.  In evangelicalism, this means in the same church, premillennial or amillennial, or in other words, 30% different in doctrine right off the bat is unity.  It isn't, but this is by making that a liberty issue.  It isn't, but it is treated as such.
  • It requires a lot of work and conflict, because you have to deal with people who don't want to unify and will cause division.
This number two I mentioned in my introduction above.  You have people challenge unity.  They don't like a particular doctrine or practice and they will challenge it through the various steps of church discipline to have their way.  This is where the Titus 3:9-11 section comes in.  The "heretic" is a factious person, who won't unify with the body, which is based upon the truth, agreed upon, believed by, and practiced by the whole rest of the church.  It might be that he just doesn't like submitting to authority.  There are  many of those out there, and you don't help them by allowing them to continue this way.

Very often pastors will defer to a faction.  The whole church sees it one way except for a small faction, and the small faction gets its way.  There are some who think this is some type of humility, to do this.  Humility isn't giving in to a faction, who is wrong.  Humility is dealing with the faction and requiring that it come along with the other church, or be gone.  We humble ourselves before God, not before factions.

Our church takes divisive people to church discipline (see Romans 16:17).  Story.  We had a man in our church, who believed that he was the window czar.  No one could open or close windows on his watch.  He was a self-appointed usher.  We didn't have an office of usher, but he gave himself that label.  He was also mentally slow in a disabled kind of way.  He could function in society, but anyone would know he was slow.

We had another man who really liked to open windows whenever he wanted.  Personally, I didn't mind if he opened a window, when he needed air.  It's not a separating issue (hopefully you smile). He opened a window. The window czar closed.  He opened.  Czar closed.  He opened.  Fight ensues. Neither side gives in.  Several times I sat down with both factions, and a few times with 2 or 3 witnesses.  Each time they resolved, something similar to having second graders shake hands after a fight at recess.

I would lecture the man, who was not intellectually challenged, that he could easily solve it by understanding the mental disability of the one he dealt with.  Perhaps he was socially challenged, which I don't think is a separate category in reality.  However, in the end the window czar wouldn't forgive and we finally disciplined him out of the church.  Both men died at a pretty early age not long after that.  It's hard not to see it as related to what I'm writing about here.

Churches don't have biblical unity, because they are unwilling to do what it takes to have it.  They don't work at it or face the conflict necessary.  Instead, they settle for something that isn't unity, and yet they call it unity.  Whatever isn't biblical unity still isn't unity.  Churches settle for the placebo, when God wants the real thing.
  • It requires accepting biblical unity and not a fake kind.
  • It might shrink the size of the assembly or, put another way, restrict numerical growth, which is considered to be a primary indicator of success and other future desired opportunities.
  • It brings attack from those who accept and practice fake unity and treat it like it is biblical, when it is not.

10 comments:

Kent Brandenburg said...

Actually, this touches something very controversial that others wouldn't want to touch, because it exposes disobedience to God's Word prevalent everywhere.

KJB1611 said...

Although I did not comment on it before, I thought the post was great and very insightful, and an encouragement to true unity.

Craig Kuha said...

Dear Kent,
Im glad you are posting this. Im also glad you have a happy church. My old church was a tightknit assembly. The pastor of the church was a quiet, strong leader, but he got cancer and died. That was a big blow to the church, but God saw everybody through.
As life moved along it became apparent that having 2 different translations wasnt going to work. At one particular point I became very angry at the new pastor and said some very unkind words to him, bad decision. Fortunately he forgave me , but I think it embolden him to fix the problem and all it did was make it worse.(should have gone to him with 2-3 witnesses)
There were alot of other issues at play, but that is the jest of it.
Usually it's not one thing why someone would leave the church. I feel bad for the church you filled in for. It's one bad experience for the people that stay, but its another, possibly worse experience if you leave and you really didnt want to. I have heard of cases where people have left the church for some reason and the pastor did not even make a phone call to them.
Some things that I notice that fuel church problems are gossiping, picking winners and losers, showing partiality because of longevity, financial problems also success, to many changes to fast, just not having a strong leader.
One of the last emails that I received from the pastor expressed the idea that all these problems were a question of values. I didn't know about the core value junk when I left ,but now I do. Just about every church I googled has a core value list.
My observation from the situation I was in, most people in the church were reasonable people and could accept biblical teaching, but they were overcome with a fear that the church was going to fade away and die. On the otherhand, I wanted to save the church from going liberal. Others wanted to free the church from the yoke of fundamentalism. To complicate the matter everyone was related to eachother by marriage or by blood. I actually feel very bad for what happened and am sorry for the situation pastor number2 found himself in. So,I wanted to emphasize how the average lay person is just trying to protect his family and protect the church. Something else that I want to comment about ,but I don't know how is the powerful,or not so powerful role of women in these situations.
Theres usually some type of thread among the older ladies that influences the men in the church.
So I think about this stuff alot, not because I want to or like to, its just the hand I was dealt. And if someone out there is offended by these words, Im truly sorry, but I will not sit by and do nothing when I see others falling into the same pit. Sheep like to huddle and hide when they get scared, and if one starts walking off the cliff, others are following right behind.
I'll leave you with this video to watch. Sheep sheepdogs and wolves the immortal. It's a little cheesy but it describes from a law enforcement angle where the threat exists. The man says he's a Christian and the immortal is the name of his channel. He's got other interesting videos if your into guns, and the law.
Jesus saves!! Craig

Brandon Engell said...

After reading both part 1 and 2. I still have questions for myself. Am I wrong for dividing over Bible versions as I believe in so many problems with the modern versions? Rejecting Contemporary Churches and Modernism? Maybe more extreme like the issues of women and pants? Not wanting to fellowship with those own and watch hellivision or those who have problems of speech like constant jesting of talk that is worthless and of no purpose? Or rejecting an invite from a woman that invited my wife and daughter to some so-called "tea-party fellowship"? Like where am I truly supposed to draw the line. Am I too harsh? Do I live a life too legalistic? Am I wrong to frown upon coffee drinking? I basically live like if the majority is doing it, I don't want association with it. These are all serious questions as I don't have anyone to really ask them. Maybe you will respond and give some clarity to myself?

Jeff Voegtlin said...

Brandon, do you mind sending me your location in an email? I'm sympathetic to your condition and would like to help if I am able. The church I am a pastor at knows of many churches across the country. Maybe we know of one near you that could help and encourage you. If you would like, send me an email at jvoegtlin@fairhavenbaptist.org

Jeff Voegtlin

KJB1611 said...

Dear Brandon,

Youare right to reject practically everything you have mentioned, atlhough there is nothing wrong with drinking coffee as long as you are temperate and do it for the glory of God--but if you don't want to, that is fine also.

Brandon Engell said...

Thanks Jeff I sent you an e mail. And KJB1611. Caffeine is an highly addictive drug. What makes this any different than Marijuana? Its a stimulant and it has many negative affects on body and the brain. Just because its socially accepted doesn't change the fact its a drug. It has withdrawal symptoms and many rely on it for energy, staying awake, etc. Part of many Americans daily routine. Your argument of temperance and Glory of God can be related to any drug. Show me the difference between Caffeine and other drugs. And why should we make any different view towards it?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Brandon,

If someone wants to answer all your questions, they can. However, I can't take the time to answer all of them, not because I wouldn't want to be a help. I don't mind talking about the post itself. I think I should do that. As the post relates to all your issues, churches should unify based upon the truth, the understanding of and application of the Word of God. Churches will choose the biblical basis for fellowship, since the church is the pillar and ground of the truth. Our church doesn't prohibit coffee, so it doesn't affect unity in our church. Food is controversial, even as seen in scripture in 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14. In application of scripture, I see reasons for prohibiting marijuana and not coffee. I don't know of one biblical church that prohibits both. Almost all would prohibit majijuana and for good reason.

Brandon Engell said...

Kent, thank You And that's understandable. I would like to hear your opinion in what makes coffee different from marijuana? I could say well marijuana relaxes you and coffee does the exact opposite by providing you energy and essentially turning off your natural bodily response towards fatigue.

Brandon Engell said...

I understand your take on food in controversial. I am talking about the most widely used stimulant drug of caffeine. Am I condemning anyone for their use of it? Let God be the judge of that one. The effects on the brain are out their. It alters your natural state of mind and bodily function. The effects it has on the brain and body are well documented. Although some might argue its beneficial uses? You could say the same thing for Marijuana. Which and what studies are true? All, none, or some? Is it at the users opinion? Lets not dive into that one. But its obviously documented as a stimulant drug. It has a wide range of uses, its even an active ingredient in some pain killers. It all honesty, one can't deny it does effect you, it does change the way your brain functions. Specifically with adensoine. For those who say temperance for this drug, what is that compared to. One 6 oz cup a day?

On another note, food yes is very controversial. We have to understand one thing though. The time when Paul wrote this was before GMO's, artificial ingredients, antibiotic enhanced seeds, highly refined sugars. Our body is the temple. Its clear feeding ourselves with all this garbage will effect us detrimentally. Its highly unnatural and obviously not the way God intended it to be. The last Church we attended always had coffee, cakes and junk food between Sunday school and morning service. Each time our daughter was in the children's service she was given candy. I don't want our children eating that. The church before used candy all the time for the Younger ones, like rewarding with Candy. It was a norm for junk and candy to be administered We wonder why so many sicknesses come upon us, problems, issues etc. You feed your body with trash its going to operate like trash. Gluttony and indulging in food is a question. If we are too live and give all to Christ why hold anything back? People may have a negative view at how I view this, but just because its an unpopular top amongst us, its still sin... Its still wrong. If one wants to eat this in their own homes, let it be. Ill let God be the judge of that. I find that its hard to share views on food with people. Advocating unnatural, processed, gmo, sickness causing food is another issue. I like the way Lester Roloff puts it in his book food fasting and faith.

"I am convinced that four things are killing the American people – too much food, bad food, wrong combinations of food, and anxiety and worry which stem from an absence of faith and trust and wisdom that comes from God."