Doctrine Divides!?

“They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (v. 14). – Jeremiah 6:1–15

In the modern era people become famous for seeking peace at any cost. Ghandi is one of those men who have become famous merely for seeking peace, though he never won the Nobel Peace prize, during the time that Ghandi was nominated Europe experienced one of its bloodiest moments. This man became a hero for many, including Christians who take Ghandi’s words as virtually equal with Scripture (if not in word then in attitude), and yet what Ghandi believed has drawn many to eternal banishment from God.

Conflict is one of those things people generally try avoid. Peace is so wanted that important differences between people and groups are often ignored, and some kind of unity is chased after based on the lowest common denominator. When we look for peace with this attitude the importance of truth can easily be forgotten and indeed in many sectors it is. The contemporary split off from the church called the ‘emergent movement’ (in some cases certain ‘emergents’ are still within the bounds of the Church and orthodox Christianity) shows this problem. In a desire to live peaceably with all people (including other religions) the emergent group has tried to redefine Christianity to “the universal fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of all mankind” or similar definitions. However in my discussions with many emergents or people with similar sympathies they all tend to tolerate any belief except orthodox biblical faith. In evangelicalism we see similar trends, people who have traditionally confessed the inerrancy of Scripture and the doctrine of Justification by faith alone are more often willing to ignore these essential things in favour of some kind of unholy unity. Salvation by Faith alone (Sola Fida) which is an essential doctrine (Gal 1:6-9; 2:15-16) is no longer a reason for division as many join hands with the Romans Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. If Christian unity is to mean anything, it must be a unity of faith grounded in the truth. To sacrifice truth on the altar of “unity” is to have no conviction at all.

Sproul says on this, “Christians have often divided over matters not essential to Christian orthodoxy and lobbed charges of heresy at one another. Such actions have created a distaste for theology in the minds of many people, and there is now a tendency to downplay any essential differences within the visible church because of all the vitriol shown over the less important points of doctrine. Let us be passionate for the truth, but let us not divide unless Christian orthodoxy is at stake.”

MacArthur perhaps sums up what our contemporary community needs to hear when he commented on a response to his book:

When you don’t even lay down clear doctrine at the level of the Gospel, where are you going to go from there? And the cry is, as one man said to me when my book on The Gospel According to Jesus came out, he said, “Your book is divisive!” You want to know something? He’s right. He’s right. Want to know something else? Doctrine divides. People say, “Oh doctrine divides…doctrine divides.” I say, “Amen, preach it, doctrine divides.” You know what it does? It confronts error. It separates true from false. It makes judgments. Today’s climate, however, of unity in the priority of relationships, that’s not tolerable.

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