When Unity Hurts the Church-

 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared”- Matthew 13:24-26 NIV

 

There are some things I believe with all my heart, mind soul and being.

 I believe God is, always has been, and will always be (Jeremiah 10:10, Revelation 21:6). God is one God with three distinctive expressions of Himself. He is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all at once (Genesis 1:26, Deuteronomy 6:4, Matthew 28:19, 1st Timothy 2:5). Jesus came to earth as a baby, grew into a man, lived a sinless life and sacrificed Himself to liberate the human race from the bondage of sin and death. In doing so, Jesus created a new people out of those who place their faith and trust in Him (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11, 1st Peter 2:4-6). These people are the Church and they serve as God’s ambassadors on earth (2nd Corinthians 5:20). The primary responsibility of the Church is to show the unbelieving world through their holiness, words and demonstrations of grace that God is who He says He is.  In my view the Church is at its most influential when Christians choose work together towards the common goal of making Christ known to all the world.

  I do not believe Christians should divide over trifling doctrinal issues or stupid stuff willy-nilly. (John 11:52). Back in the day, I worked as the director of a Pregnancy Resource Center. The position afforded me many opportunities to work closely with believers from many different expressions of Christianity. I very rarely felt the differences in beliefs were so great I could not work with leaders from other churches.

 That being said. 

This week I was forced to do some thinking about some of my beliefs. It all began with an article about a podcast. That article inspired me to listen to the interview between Jen Hatmaker and Max Lucado. For those not “in the know” Jen Hatmaker is a very touchy-feely, fairly well-known author, blogger and Christian influencer who hosts a popular podcast. She markets herself as an Evangelical but promotes liberal views on theology, gender issues, and is a supporter of gay marriage. She has said on more than one occasion she believes homosexual relationships can be “holy”.

 Max Lucado is a much-loved and well-known Evangelical author and pastor who tends to be conservative in his views. He implied several times during the interview he doesn’t agree with her on every issue but he was incredibly generous with his praise and he essentially endorsed her ministry.

 Throughout their discussion Max Lucado made it clear he believes unity in the Body of Christ should be a very high priority for believers. As long as Christians agree on the “fundamentals of Christianity” little else matters. The fundamentals include belief in the life, sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Max Lucado is not the only Christian who feels those issues are the only issues Christians should divide over. Those have been the standard for Christian fellowship for decades.

 So, a couple of things.

 I would never encourage professing Christians to be unkind to other professing Christians. The Bible is clear that Christians should be known by their love for one another. Therefore, meanness and hate is never acceptable (John 13:35).

 However, I do think it is time for Christians to think long and hard about where we draw the line on endorsing ministries, influencers and Bible teachers. What a person teaches regarding sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular really does matter. It should be taken into consideration before we follow, align ourselves with or endorse anyone.  

 Here’s why.  

  Not every issue Christians disagree about is black and white. There are shades of grey and room for differences of opinion concerning some issues (eschatology, politics, Calvinism, Arminianism, expressions of worship, etc.). However, issues pertaining to sexuality, homosexuality and the number of genders that exist are settled issues. The Bible clearly teaches homosexuality is a sin. Moreover, God made humans in His image, male and female, only, period. (Genesis 1:27, Leviticus 20:13,1st Timothy 1:9-11, 1st Corinthians 6:9)

 It is true that homosexual sin is no more or less sinful than heterosexual sin (1st Corinthians 6:18). That said, homosexuality and gender are not up for debate from a biblical perspective (for more on this issue I highly recommend: What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality, by Kevin Deyoung). To teach otherwise is more than just an affirmation of “love”. It is an all-out-full-frontal assault on the inerrancy of Scripture. It is impossible to say we believe the Bible in its entirety and then teach that it is completely wrong on issues of sexuality.

 The Bible calls for unity in the Church. However, unity should never come at the expense of truth and sound doctrine. The books of Jude, 2nd Timothy and 2nd Peter all predict there will come a time when teachers will slip into the church and teach false doctrines and half-truths that will appeal to the fleshly (sinful) nature of humanity and lead people away from the true gospel (2nd Timothy 4:3, 2nd Peter 2:1 Jude 4). Christians are advised to avoid those kinds of teachers.

 The Bible says what it says about sexuality. We do not get to rewrite the opinions of our Creator. When we try we end up in a place where everyone in the church does what is right in their own eyes. When that happens, standards of right and wrong are lost and the Church loses its spiritual power and ability to change the culture.  

 

  

5 thoughts on “When Unity Hurts the Church-

  1. Oh so true. God is the same yesterday, today & forever. Why does puniness man keep trying to tell Him how to run His universe?

  2. “Not every issue Christians disagree about is black and white. There are shades of grey and room for differences of opinion concerning some issues (eschatology, politics, Calvinism, Arminianism, expressions of worship, etc.). However, sexuality, homosexuality and the number of genders that exist are settled issues. The Bible clearly teaches homosexuality is a sin. Moreover, God made humans in His image, male and female, only, period. (Genesis 1:27, Leviticus 20:13,1st Timothy 1:9-11, 1st Corinthians 6:9)”

    Hmmm, the bible clearly teaches that adultery is a sin, working on the sabbath is a sin, etc, all requiring death.

    So, Lisa, why don’t you go out and kill them as your god supposedly commands? Why do you only harangue about homosexuality?

    As for Christians not disagreeing and your attempt to sweep it under the rug, Christians disagree about predestination and free will, how one is saved, what their god wants as morality, how to interpret the bible etc. Your bible isn’t clear at all, and your version isn’t the only one.

    You have no more evidence your version is the true one than those Christians you are sure are wrong. And that neither you nor any Christian can do what the bible promises baptized believers in Christ as savior can do, there is no reason to think that any of you have the right answer.

    • There are huge theological differences between the Old Testament and the New, far too many to effectively cover in a comment. Suffice it to say, when Jesus died on the cross he fulfilled ALL the requirements of the Old Testament law. This is why Christians do not follow Old Testament dietary laws or take a legalistic view of the Sabbath. It is important to understand that God only called for the death of certain people groups after they were given many years and a plethora of opportunities to change (repent). The Canaanites (who were guilty of horrible war crimes and routinely committed child sacrifice) were literally given centuries to repent before the Jews were told to go to war against them. You might want to read the book of Jonah. It’s an interesting book. It offers a great deal of insight into the heart of God towards the enemies of the Jews in the Old Testament. Keep in mind as you read the book that Jonah’s reluctance to prophesy in Nineveh was due entirely to the Ninevites cruelty towards other nations and his fear that God might be merciful towards people he (in his humanity) saw as irredeemable and evil. The Ninevites were know to murder women, take children as slaves and cut off the thumbs and big toes of all the men leaving them to slowly starve to death. They weren’t great people but God did care enough about them to want them to repent so that they could be saved. For the record, there is no New Testament command calling for the death of those who sin against God. Christians don’t kill the ungodly and unsaved because the New Testament is clear that we are not supposed to. Instead we are called two pray for those who don’t know God. God will deal with the disobedient in the afterlife. Those Christians who killed unbelievers in the past were confused about the theological differences between the Old and New Testament (just as you are). Sometimes ignorance has ugly consequences, as it did with them. The sin of adultery is covered in the New Testament, and would fall under the umbrella of “sexuality”. I agree with you that Christians disagree about how one is saved and predestination. Those issues fall under the headings of Calvinism and Arminianism which I mentioned. As far as your charge that this blog was a harangue against homosexuality, saying something is wrong hardly qualifies as a harangue. You will be in my prayers.

      • So, you claim that there are “huge theological differences between the Old Testmament and the New”. Yep, there are since Jesus Christ didn’t fulfill the requirements of what the Jewish Messiah would be.

        No, there is no “suffice it to say” since Jesus didn’t complete all the requirements of Old Testament law. You are intentionally misrepresenting what your bible says. This is why JC says that you need to follow the laws in Matthew 5. It is only Paul who says you don’t have to follow the laws.

        Again, you misrepresent what the bible says. It does not have this god only calling for deaths of entire peoples after they were given “many years and a plethora of opportunities” to change. There is no evidence that the Canaanites did child sacrifice. And where are these “war crimes” in this bible of yours? They were not “literally given centuries”, you might want to read Joshua to see what is written.

        I’ve read the book of Jonah, it doesn’t say anything about Nineveh being cruel or doing anything you’ve baselessly claimed. The story also makes the very silly claim that Niniveh was so big it took three days to go through it (we know it was only about 4 km/2 miles wide). We have a story where a god supposedly finds a city “wicked”, which can mean a lot of things to this god, which has no problem in murdering children and in trying to kill Jonah and the innocent sailors. The bible has that the ninevites believed in god, and after they apologized to this god, this god forgave them. Then this god torments Jonah and Jonah shows he and his god aren’t very bright with the pointless effort that happened earlier.

        You’ve also appear to have not read your bible. Luke 19 (who is the king in the parable?) , Romans 1, Deuteronomy 13, 17, Revelation 19-21, 2 Chronicles 15, John 3, Romans 9, Matthew 10, etc. Again, your supposed savior says that all of his fathers laws are to be followed, no exceptions. The NT is clear that Jesus wants the laws followed.

        You are indeed also called to pray so which is right? If this god has a plan, what does prayer do to change it, if it, as Romans 9 says, intentionally prevents some people from being able to accept this god? Romans 9 is also a problem since it contradicts what 2 Peter 3 says, when it says that this god wants all to accept it.

        Christians often claim that other Christians are “confused” when there is no evidence for that at all. That comes from making up the bible and your god in your own images; a merciful person will make up a good god, a vengeful person will make up a vengeful god. And if this god allows people to be “confused” then it is responsible for what people do; the “ugly consequences” are all this god’s fault if it can’t make itself clear and then chooses not to try again when people get the wrong message.

        Yep, the vast difference between Christians are often predetermination, what Jesus was, how one is saved, how one is baptized, what hell is, what heaven is, etc. You want to pretend that your god doesn’t like homosexuals. Other Christians claim the opposite. None of you can do what Christians are supposed to be able to do, so it seems that all you have is your own hates and desires.

        The bible was written by ignorant people a couple of thousand years ago. They didn’t even understand basic reality, so to assume that they knew about gender, sex, etc is silly. And it’s even sillier since you have to run back to the OT to get your claims that the bible is against homosexuality, when you want to claim you can ignore the rest of it. Leviticus 20 also says you should be killing kids who curse to their parents. 1 Timothy says the same thing. How many have you killed, Lisa?

        As for me being in your prayers, what are you praying for? I should know so I can tell you if the prayer worked. And if it doesn’t, what will your excuse be, Lisa?

        “We do not get to rewrite the opinions of our Creator. “ Unless of course they are inconvenient.

Leave a Reply