Tuesday, 25 March 2014

On having a contentious spirit.

But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. – 1 Corinthians 11:16

Although I do not see any problem in identifying one’s own viewpoints being from within a certain framework of belief, it is clear from the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21 and the rebuke by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 that the church was never meant to divide into denominations over minor differences or through following the teachings of certain men. And we certainly are not supposed to be fighting with one another.

I have grown wary of negative blogs, Facebook updates and conversations which are continually aimed at Mark Driscoll, the Pope, Ken Ham, John MacArthur and so on (1). It can be useful at times to point out error for the purpose of teaching others and defending what is true. And it is even profitable and fun having those conversations within a respectful and loving environment. But those who take on the task of finding fault with everyone else are unbeknownst to themselves assuming the role of the Pharisee.

The Pharisees were expert fault finders; they took exception with Jesus’ disciples for eating food without first washing their hands and on another occasion for them plucking corn on the Sabbath. They took exception when Jesus healed people on the Sabbath and when he cast out devils and forgave a man of his sins. Paul warns us in 2 Timothy 2:23 to “avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife”. He goes on to say in verses 24 and 25 that a servant of the Lord “...must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition.”


As Christians, we are to consider others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3); the reality though is that many of us, much like the Pharisees of old, consider ourselves to be the guardians and exclusive holders of all truth (John 7:47-49). Certainly there are times to take a harder stance with people, the kind of people that are saying outright dangerous things, causing divisions and preaching a different Jesus. Scripture tells us that this false gospel inevitably leads to rotten fruits and so these people and teachings are normally fairly easy to identify. Let us be discerning enough though to recognize what is tolerable and what is not. Let us be very careful not to reject those who Christ accepts. Let me finish this with a quote from Iain Murray.

Doctrinal differences between believers should never lead to personal antagonism. Error must be opposed even when held by fellow members of Christ, but if that opposition cannot co-exist with a true love for all saints and a longing for their spiritual prosperity then it does not glorify God nor promote the edification of the Church.


1 - Note that some of the blogs about these men are very good and helpful, I am referring here to those that are just plain arrogant and abusive.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate this post. It troubles me that we spend so much time attacking one another within the community that confesses Christ. I wish we spent far more of our energy commending Christ in deed and word among those who don't know him. These kinds of attacks don't glorify God or commend Christ.