Church Division

The Church has divided for centuries for many different reasons. These reasons can be categorized into two categories, personal and doctrinal. Personal divisions are those that are centered on individuals who cannot get a long as a result of pride, injustice, jealousy, etc... Doctrinal divisions are those that are centered on differences in interpreting the Bible.

Divisions because of personal conflicts are the hardest to deal with because of all of the emotions that are involved. Most disagreements even if they start out doctrinal usually turn personal. It is hard for people to allow for differences without thinking negatively of the person who disagrees with them. The reverse is also true that divisions that start out personal can also turn doctrinal. People may justify their dislike of certain people by a difference in doctrine.

The Bible is quite clear on how to work through personal differences. We should consider others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3). Since it is obvious that we should work through our personal differences we usually focus on our doctrinal differences so that we can maintain our general dislike for one another. We justify these actions from verses that tell us to not even say hi to someone who denies Jesus lived and died on this earth (2 John 10). Sadly, we are unable to differentiate between major and minor differences.

Doctrinal issues should not divide us as much as they do. Paul tells us that we should not follow certain teachers by saying 'I follow Paul,' or 'I follow Apollos,' or I follow Cephas (1 Cor. 13)." Paul is not warning people to stop physically following a teachers around. He is warning against people following the doctrine of particular teachers. In today's language he might have warned us against saying, "'I'm Baptist' or 'I'm Reformed.'" This does not only apply to denominations but applies to any teachers we may follow that cause us to divide from people who are truly brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul brings home this point when he warns against even saying "I follow Christ." Nobody has 100% correct doctrine except for Jesus. Those who think they have it all right and are the only ones following Christ are mistaken as Paul points out.

Christ is not divided and therefore the Church should not be divided. Many doctrinal differences have pride lurking beneath the surface. There is no one teacher who can perfectly interpret the Bible except for the Holy Spirit. If we are convinced that a person or a church is characterized by the Holy Spirit then we should not be divided from them even we do have points of disagreement.


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